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OAK  ST.  HDSF 


LI  B  R.AR.Y 

OF  THL 

UNIVERSITY 
OF    ILLINOIS 


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REPRESENTATIVE  FRENCH  FICTION 

Complete  and  accurate  Translations,  elegantly 
printed  and  bound,  price  8s  6d. 


By  THKOPHILK  GAUTIER. 

MADEMOISELLE    DE    MAUPIN,  a  Romance  of 
Love  and  Passion. 

"  The  Golden  Rook  of  Spirit  and  Sense,  the  Holy  Writ  of  Beauty." — A.  C.  SWIN- 
BURNE. 

"Gautier  is  an  inimitable  model.  His  manner  is  so  light  and  true,  so  really  creative, 
his  fancy  so  alert,  his  taste  so  happy,  his  humour  so  genial,  that  he  makes  illusion  almost 
as  contagious  as  laughter." — MR  HENRY  JAMES. 


By  GUSTAVE  FLAUBERT. 
SALAMBO. 

TRANSLATED   FROM   THE   FRENCH    "EDITION    DEFINITIVE" 

BY  J.  S.  CHARTRES. 

"  The  Translator  has  thoroughly  understood  the  original,  and  has  succeeded  in  putting 
it  into  good  English.  The  type,  paper,  and  material  execution  of  the  volume,  inside  and 
out,  leave  nothing  to  be  desired." — Wi'slminstir  Review, 

MADAME  BOVARY:  Provincial  Manners 

TRANSLATED  BY  E.  MARX-AVELING.  With  an  Introduction  and 
Notes  of  the  Proceedings  against  the  Author  before  the  "  Tribunal 
Correctionnel "  of  Paris. 

" '  Madame  Rovary  '  grips  your  very  vitals  with  an  invincible  power,  like  some  scene 
you  have  really  witnessed,  some  event  which  is  actually  happening;  before  your  eyes.  — 
EMILE  ZOLA. 


REPRESENTATIVE  FRENCH  FICTION — continued 


By  E.  and  J.  DE  GONCOURT. 
RENEE   MAUPERIN. 

"  One  of  the  most  pathetic  romances  of  our  day.  Running  through  almost  the  whole 
gamut  of  human  passion,  it  has  the  alternatives  of  sunshine  and  shade  that  exist  in  real 
life." — Homing  Ppst. 

GERMINIE   LACERTEUX. 

"For  myself,  I  can  say  that  I  could  not  lay  the  book  down  for  a  moment  until  I  had 
finished  it." — Letters  on  Books  in  Truth. 

By  PAUL  BOURGET. 
A    LOVE    CRIME. 

From  the  l"jth  French  Edition. 

"Who  could  take  up  such  books,  by  the  way  admirably  translated,  and  not  be  simply 
and  absolutely  spellbound  ?" — Tnith. 

By  HENRI  MURGER. 

THE    BOHEMIANS    OF    THE    LATIN 
QUARTER. 

"  The  story  is  full  of  laughter-provoking  episodes,  and  there  is  no  lack  of  jiathos  for  those 
who  can  see  beneath  the  surface  of  wild  heedlessness." — Academy. 

By  GEORGES  OHNET. 
THE     MARL-PIT    MYSTERY. 

WILL. 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN 


BY 

THEOPHILE   GAUTIER 


LONDON 

GIBBINGS   &   COMPANY,  .LIMITED 
1 8     BURY     STREET,     W.C. 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 


PREFACE. 

NE  of  the  greatest  burlesques  of  the  glorious 
epoch  at  which  we  have  the  good  fortune  to 
live,  is  unquestionably  the  rehabilitation  of 
virtue  undertaken  by  all  the  journals  of  every 
hue,  red,  green,  or  tri-coloured. 

Virtue  is  assuredly  very  respectable,  and 
we  have  no  wish  to  fail  in  respect  to  her, 
God  forbid !  good  and  worthy  woman  that  she  is  !     We  think 
that  her  eyes  are  brilliant  enough  through  their  spectacles,  that 
-.  her  leg  is  neatly  gartered,  that  she  takes  her  snuff  in  her  gold  box 
with  all  imaginable  grace,  that  her  little  dog  bows  like  a  dancing- 
£  master.     We  think  all  this.    We  will  even  acknowledge  that  for 
x,  her  age,  she  is,  in  point  of  fact,  not  so  much  amiss,  and  that 
'  £$he  carries  her  years  as  well  as  can  be.     She  is  a  very  agreeable 
xj  grandmother — but   she  is  a   grandmother.      It  seems  to  me 
,7  natural,  especially  at  twenty  years  of  age,  to  prefer  some  little 
-^immorality,  very  spruce  and  coquettish,  and  very  good-natured, 
>,Svith  her  hair  a  little  uncurled,  her  skirt  short  rather  than  long, 
s  an  enticing  foot  and  eye,  her  cheek  lightly  kindled,  laughter 
^  on  her  lips,  and  her  heart  in  her  hand.     The  most  monstrously 
"^  virtuous  iournalists  cannot   be  of  a   different  opinion,  and  if 

4 


to  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

they  say  the  contrary,  it  is  very  probable  that  they  do  not 
think  it.  To  think  one  thing  and  write  another  happens  every 
day,  especially  in  the  case  of  virtuous  people 

I  remember  the  jokes  launched  before  the  Revolution  (that 
of  July,  I  mean)  against  the  unfortunate  and  virginal  Viscount 
Sosthene  de  La  Rochefoucauld,  who  lengthened  the  skirts  of 
the  dancers  at  the  Opera,  and  with  his  own  patrician  hands 
applied  a  modest  plaster  to  the  middle  of  all  the  statues. 
Viscount  Sosthene  de  La  Rochefoucauld  has  been  far  sur- 
passed. Modesty  has  been  greatly  improved  upon  since  that 
time,  and  we  now  indulge  in  refinements  which  he  would  not 
have  dreamed  of. 

For  my  own  part,  not  being  accustomed  to  look  at  statues 
in  certain  places,  I  thought,  like  other  people,  that  the  vine 
leaf  carved  by  the  chisels  of  the  superintendent  of  the  fine 
arts  was  the  most  ridiculous  thing  in  the  world.  It  appears 
that  I  was  wrong,  and  that  the  vine  leaf  is  among  the  most 
meritorious  of  institutions. 

I  have  been  told — I  refused  to  believe  it,  so  singular  did 
it  seem  to  me — that  people  existed,  who,  standing  before 
Michael  Angelo's  "  Last  Judgment,"  saw  nothing  in  it  but 
the  episode  of  the  licentious  prelates,  and  veiled  their  faces, 
as  they  cried  out  against  the  abomination  of  the  desolation  ! 

Such  people,  too,  know  nothing  of  the  romance  of  Rodrigo 
save  the  verse  about  the  snake.  If  there  is  any  nakedness 
in  a  picture  or  a  book  they  go  straight  to  it.  like  swine  to 
the  mire,  without  troubling  themselves  about  the  full-blown 
flowers,  or  the  beautiful  golden  fruit  which  hang  in  every 
direction. 

I  confess  that  I  am  not  vir'uous  enough  for  that.  The 
impudent  abigail  Dorine  may  safely  display  her  plump  breast 
before  me.  I  shall  certainly  not  take  out  my  pocket-hand- 
kerchief to  cover  the  bosom  that  cannot  be  seen.  I  shall 
look  at  her  breast  as  at  her  face,  and,  if  it  is  white  and  well- 
formed,  I  shall  take  pleasure  in  it ;  but  I  shall  not  try  whether 
Elmire's  dress  is  soft,  nor  push  her  in  a  saintly  way  towards 
the  edge  of  the  table,  as  did  the  pitiful  Tartuffe 


PREFACE.  II 

The  great  affectation  of  morality  which  reigns  at  present 
would  be  very  laughable,  if  it  were  not  very  tiresome.  Every 
feuilleton  becomes  a  pulpit,  every  journalist  a  preacher, 
and  nothing  but  the  tonsure  and  the  little  collar  is  wanting. 
Rainy  weather  and  homilies  are  the  order  of  the  day ;  we 
protect  ourselves  from  the  one  by  not  going  out  except  in  a 
carriage,  and  from  the  other  by  reading  Pantagruel  again  with 
bottle  and  pipe. 

Good  heavens!  what  exasperation!  what  fury!  Who  has 
bitten  you?  Who  has  stung  you?  What  the  deuce  is  the 
matter  with  you,  that  you  make  such  an  outcry,  and  what  has 
this  poor  vice  done  to  you,  that  he  has  so  much  of  your 
ill-will,  he  who  is  such  a  good  fellow  and  so  easy-going,  and 
who  only  asks  to  amuse  himself  without  annoying  other  people, 
if  that  be  possible?  Do  with  vice  as  Serre  did  with  the 
gendarme :  embrace  each  other,  and  let  all  this  come  to  an 
end.  Believe  me,  it  will  do  you  good.  Why,  good  heavens  ! 
worthy  preachers,  what  would  you  do  without  vice  ?  You 
would  be  reduced  to  beggary  from  to-morrow,  if  people  became 
virtuous  to-day. 

The  theatres  would  be  closed  this  evening.  What  sub- 
jects would  you  have  for  your  feuilletons  ?  No  more  balls 
at  the  opera-house  to  fill  your  columns  ;  no  more  novels  to 
cut  up ;  for  balls,  novels,  and  comedies  are  veritable  pomps 
of  Satan,  if  we  are  to  believe  our  Holy  Mother  the  Church. 
The  actress  would  send  away  her  lover,  and  could  no  longer 
pay  you  for  your  praise.  People  would  cease  to  subscribe 
to  your  papers ;  they  would  read  Saint  Augustine,  and  go  to 
church  and  tell  their  beads.  That  might  perhaps  be  all  very 
well,  but  most  certainly  you  would  gain  nothing  by  it.  It 
people  were  virtuous,  what  would  you  do  with  your  tirades 
against  the  immorality  of  the  century  ?  You  see  that  vice  is 
good  for  something  after  all. 

But  it  is  the  fashion  now  to  be  virtuous  and  Christian ; 
people  have  taken  a  turn  for  it.  They  affect  Saint  Jerome  as 
formerly  they  affected  Don  Juan  ;  they  are  pale  and  macerated, 
they  wear  their  hair  apostle-wise,  they  walk  with  clasped  hands 


12  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

and  with  eyes  fixed  on  the  ground  ;  they  have  a  Bible  open 
on  the  mantelpiece,  and  a  crucifix  and  some  consecrated  box- 
wood by  the  bed;  they  swear  no  longer,  smoke  little,  and 
scarcely  chew  at  all. 

Then  they  are  Christians,  and  speak  of  the  sacredness  of 
art,  the  lofty  mission  of  the  artist,  the  poetry  of  Catholicism, 
Monsieur  de  Lamennais,  the  painters  of  the  Angelic  school,  the 
Council  of  Trent,  progressive  humanity,  and  a  thousand  other 
fine  things.  Some  infuse  a  little  Republicanism  into  their 
religion,  and  these  are  not  the  least  curious.  They  couple 
Robespierre  and  Jesus  Christ  in  the  most  jovial  fashion,  and, 
with  a  seriousness  worthy  of  praise,  amalgamate  the  Acts  of 
the  Apostles  and  the  decrees  of  the  holy  Convention,  to  use 
the  sacramental  epithet ;  others,  as  a  last  ingredient,  add  a 
few  Saint-Simonian  ideas.  Such  persons  are  complete  down  to 
the  ground ;  they  cannot  be  excelled.  It  is  not  given  to 
human  absurdity  to  go  further — has  ultra  metas,  &c.,  they  are 
the  pillars  of  Hercules  of  burlesque. 

Christianity  is  so  much  in  vogue,  owing  to  the  prevalent 
hypocrisy,  that  neo-Christianity  itself  enjoys  a  certain  favour. 
They  say  that  it  even  possesses  an  adept,  including  Monsieur 
Drouineau. 

An  extremely  curious  variety  of  the  moral  journalist,  pro- 
perly so-called,  is  the  female-family  journalist. 

He  pushes  chaste  susceptibility  as  far  as  anthropophagy,  or 
to  within  little  of  it. 

His  manner  of  procedure,  though  simple  and  easy  at  first 
sight,  is  none  the  less  facetious  and  superlatively  diverting, 
and  I  think  that  it  is  worth  preserving  for  posterity — for  our 
children's  children,  as  the  perukes  of  the  so-called  "grand 
century  "  would  say. 

First,  in  order  to  pose  as  a  journalist  of  this  species,  a  few 
little  preparatory  utensils  are  needful — such  as  two  or  three 
wedded  wives,  a  few  mothers,  as  many  sisters  as  possible,  a 
complete  assortment  of  daughters,  and  female  cousins  with- 
out number.  Next  there  is  required  a  theatrical  piece  or  a 
novel,  a  pen,  ink,  paper,  and  a  printer  It  might,  perhaps,  be 


PREFACE.  13 

as  well  to  have  an  idea  and  several  subscribers,  but  with  a 
good  deal  of  philosophy  and  shareholders'  money,  it  is  possible 
to  do  without  them. 

When  you  have  all  this  you  may  set  up  as  a  moral  journalist. 
The  two  following  recipes,  suitably  varied,  are  sufficient  for 
the  editing  : — 

Models  of  Virtuous  Articles  on  a  First  Performance, 

"  After  the  literature  of  blood,  the  literature  of  mire ;  after 
the  Morgue  and  the  galleys,  the  alcove  and  the  lupanar ;  after 
rags  stained  by  murder,  rags  stained  by  debauchery ;  after,  &c. 
(according  to  necessity  and  the  space  available,  this  strain  may 
be  continued  from  six  lines  up  to  fifty  or  more) — this  is  justice. 
See  whither  forgetfulness  of  wholesome  doctrine  and  romantic 
licentiousness  lead  us  :  the  theatre  has  become  a  school  for 
prostitution,  into  which  it  is  impossible  to  venture,  without 
trembling,  in  the  company  of  a  woman  you  respect.  You 
come  trusting  to  an  illustrious  name,  and  you  are  obliged  to 
withdraw  at  the  third  act,  with  your  young  daughter,  quite 
disconcerted  and  out  of  countenance.  Your  wife  hides  her 
blushes  behind  her  fan ;  your  sister,  your  female  cousin,  &c." 
(The  titles  of  relationship  may  be  diversified ;  it  is  enough  if 
they  are  those  of  females.) 

Note. — There  is  one  who  has  pushed  his  morality  so  far  as 
to  say :  "  I  will  not  go  to  see  this  drama  with  my  mistress." 
That  man  I  admire  and  love  ;  I  carry  him  in  my  heart,  as 
Louis  XVIII  carried  the  whole  of  France  in  his  bosom  ;  for 
he  has  had  the  most  triumphant,  colossal,  irregular,  and  luxorian 
idea  that  has  entered  the  brain  of  man,  out  of  all  the  numerous 
droll  ideas  conceived  in  this  blessed  nineteenth  century. 

The  method  of  giving  an  account  of  a  book  is  very  expedi- 
tious, and  within  the  reach  of  every  capacity  : — 

"If  you  wish  to  read  this  book,  shut  yourself  up  carefully  at 
home ;  do  not  let  it  lie  about  on  the  table.  If  your  wife  or 
your  daughter  were  to  open  it,  she  would  be  lost.  It  is  a 


14  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

dangerous  book,  and  it  counsels  vice.  It  would,  perhaps,  have 
had  a  great  success  in  the  time  of  Cre*billon,  in  the  petites 
maisons,  at  the  delicate  suppers  of  the  duchesses  ;  but  now  that 
morals  are  purified,  that  the  hand  of  the  people  has  overthrown 

the  worm-eaten  structure  of  the  aristocracy,  &c.,  &c.,  that 

that that there  must  be  in  every  work  an  idea a 

religious  and  moral  idea,  which a  view,  lofty  and  profound, 

answering  to  the  needs  of  humanity ;  for  it  is  deplorable  that 
young  writers  should  sacrifice  the  most  holy  things  to  success, 
and  employ  an  otherwise  estimable  talent  in  lewd  pictures 
which  would  make  a  captain  of  dragoons  blush.  (The  virginity 
of  the  captain  of  dragoons  is  the  finest  discovery,  next  to  that 
of  America,  which  has  been  made  for  a  long  time.)  The  novel 
we  are  reviewing  recalls  '  Therese  Philosophe,'  '  Felicia,' 
'Compere  Mathieu,'  and  the  'Contes  de  Grecourt."'  The 
virtuous  journalist  has  immense  erudition  in  the  matter  of 
filthy  novels.  It  would  be  curious  to  know  why. 

It  is  frightful  to  think  that,  by  order  of  the  newspapers, 
there  are  many  honest  manufacturers  who  have  only  these  two 
recipes  to  live  on,  they  and  the  numerous  family  that  they 
employ. 

Apparently  I  am  the  most  enormously  immoral  personage  to 
be  found  in  Europe  or  elsewhere,  for  I  see  nothing  more 
licentious  in  the  novels  and  comedies  of  to-day  than  in  the 
novels  and  comedies  of  former  times,  and  I  cannot  well  under- 
stand why  the  ears  of  the  gentlemen  of  the  press  should  have 
suddenly  become  so  Jansenically  delicate. 

I  do  not  think  that  the  most  innocent  journalist  dare  say 
that  Pigault-Lebrun,  the  younger  Cre"billon,  Louvet,  Voisenon, 
Marmontel,  and  all  other  makers  of  romances  and  novels,  do 
not  surpass  in  immorality,  since  immorality  there  is,  the  most 
disordered  and  licentious  productions  of  Messrs.  So-and-so, 
whom  I  do  not  mention  by  name  out  of  regard  for  their 
modesty. 

It  would  need  the  most  signal  bad  faith  not  to  acknow 
ledge  it. 

Let  it  not  be  objected  that  I  have  here  adduced  names  iittle 


PREFACE.  15 

or  imperfectly  known.  If  I  have  not  alluded  to  illustrious  and 
monumental  names,  it  is  not  that  they  do  not  support  my 
assertion  with  their  great  authority. 

Except  for  the  difference  in  merit,  the  romances  and  taL 
of  Voltaire  are  assuredly  not  much  more  susceptible  of  beir^ 
given  as  prizes  to  little  boarding-school  Misses  than  are  the 
immoral  tales  of  our  friend  the  lycanthropist,  or  even  the  moral 
tales  of  the  mealy-mouthed  Marmontel. 

What  do  we  see  in  the  comedies  of  the  great  Moliere? 
The  holy  institution  of  marriage  (to  adopt  the  style  of  catechism 
and  journalist)  mocked  and  turned  into  ridicule  in  every 
scene. 

The  husband  is  old,  ugly,  and  eccentric ;  he  wears  his  wig 
awry,  his  coat  has  gone  out  of  fashion,  he  has  a  bill-headed 
cane,  his  nose  is  daubed  with  snuff,  his  legs  are  short,  and  his 
abdomen  is  as  big  as  a  budget.  He  sputters,  speaks  only 
folly,  and  acts  suitably  to  his  words ;  he  sees  nothing  and  hears 
nothing ;  his  wife  is  kissed  to  his  very  beard,  and  he  does  not 
know  what  is  going  on.  This  lasts  until  he  has  been  well  and 
duly  proved  a  cuckold  in  his  own  eyes  and  in  the  eyes  of  the 
whole  highly  edified  house,  which  applauds  enthusiastically. 

Those  who  applaud  the  most  are  those  who  are  married  the 
most. 

Marriage  in  Moliere  is  called  George  Dandin  or  Sganarelle. 

Adultery,  Damis,  or  Clitandre ;  there  is  no  name  sweet  and 
charming  enough  for  it. 

The  adulterer  is  always  young,  handsome,  well-made,  and  a 
marquis,  at  the  least.  He  enters  humming  the  latest  couranto 
in  an  aside ;  he  makes  one  or  two  steps  on  the  stage  with  the 
most  deliberate  and  triumphant  air  in  the  world ;  he  scratches 
his  ear  with  the  rosy  nail  of  his  coquettishly  opened  little  ringer ; 
he  combs  his  beautiful  fair  hair  with  his  tortoise-shell  comb, 
and  adjusts  the  legs  of  his  trousers,  which  are  of  great  size. 
His  doublet  and  hose  are  hidden  beneath  aigulets  and  bows  of 
ribbon,  his  neck-band  is  by  the  best  maker ;  his  gloves  smell 
better  than  benjamin  and  civet ;  his  plumes  have  cost  a  louis 
the  spray. 


16  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUFIN. 

How  fiery  his  eye  and  how  blooming  his  cheek !  how 
smiling  his  mouth  !  how  white  his  teeth  !  how  soft  and  well- 
washed  his  hands  ! 

He  speaks,  and  we  have  nothing  but  madrigals  and  perfumed 
gallantries  delivered  in  a  fine  affected  style,  and  with  the  best 
air ;  he  has  read  romances  and  knows  poetry ;  he  is  valiant 
and  ready  to  draw ;  he  scatters  gold  with  open  hand.  Thus 
Angelique,  Agnes,  and  Isabelle,  can  scarcely  restrain  themselves 
from  leaping  upon  his  neck,  well-bred  and  great  ladies  though 
they  be,  and  the  husband  is  duly  deceived  in  the  fifth  act, 
fortunate  if  he  has  not  been  so  from  the  first. 

This  is  the  manner  in  which  marriage  is  treated  by  Moliere, 
one  of  the  loftiest  and  weightiest  geniuses  that  have  ever 
lived.  Do  people  think  that  there  is  anything  stronger  in 
the  speeches  in  "  Indiana  "  or  "  Valentine  "  ? 

Paternity  is  still  less  respected,  if  that  be  possible.  Look  at 
Orgon,  look  at  Ge'ronte,  look  at  all  of  them. 

How  they  are  robbed  by  their  sons  and  beaten  by  their 
valets  !  How  are  exposed,  without  pity  for  their  age,  their 
avarice,  and  their  obstinacy,  and  their  imbecility !  What 
jestings !  what  mystifications  !  How  they  are  shouldered  out 
of  life,  these  poor  old  men  who  are  slow  about  dying,  and 
will  on  no  account  give  up  their  money !  How  the  eternity 
of  parents  is  spoken  of!  What  speeches  against  heredity,  and 
how  much  more  convincing  they  are  than  all  the  Saint- 
Simonian  declamations  ! 

A  father  is  an  ogre,  an  Argus,  a  gaoler,  a  tyrant,  a  something 
which  at  the  very  most  is  only  good  for  delaying  a  marriage, 
during  three  acts,  until  the  final  denouement.  A  father  is  as 
ridiculous  as  the  most  ridiculous  husband.  A  son  is  never 
ridiculous  in  Moliere,  for  Moliere,  like  all  authors  of  all  possible 
times,  paid  court  to  the  youthful  generation  at  the  expense  of 
the  old. 

And  the  Scapins,  with  their  cloaks  striped  in  Neapolitan 
/ashion,  their  cap  on  their  ear,  and  their  feather  sweeping  the 
flies — are  they  not  very  pious  people,  very  chaste,  and  deserving 
of  canonisation  ?  The  galleys  are  full  of  worthy  people,  who 


PREFACE.  17 

have  not  done  a  quarter  of  what  they  do.  The  cheatings 
of  Trialph  are  petty  in  comparison  with  theirs.  And  the 
Lisettes  and  Martons,  what  wantons,  ye  gods,  are  they  !  The 
courtesans  of  the  streets  are  far  from  being  so  sharp  as  they 
are,  so  ready  to  give  a  smutty  reply.  How  well  they  under- 
stand how  to  deliver  a  note  !  how  well  they  keep  watch  during 
a  rendezvous  !  They  are,  on  my  word,  precious  girls,  and  give 
excellent  advice. 

'Tis  a  charming  society  that  moves  and  walks  through 
these  comedies  and  imbroglios.  Duped  guardians,  cuckolded 
husbands,  libertine  attendants,  cunning  valets,  young  ladies 
madly  in  love,  debauched  sons,  adulterous  wives — are  they 
not  all  quite  equal  to  the  melancholy  young  beaux,  and  the 
poor,  weak,  oppressed,  and  impassioned  young  women  of  the 
dramas  and  novels  by  our  fashionable  authors  ? 

And  withal  the  denouements,  minus  the  final  dagger-blow 
and  minus  the  necessary  cup  of  poison,  are  as  happy  as 
those  in  fairy  tales,  and  everybody,  even  the  husband  himself, 
is  always  as  pleased  as  possible.  In  Moliere  virtue  is  always 
disgraced  and  thrashed;  it  wears  the  horns,  and  offers  its 
back  to  Mascarille  ;  morality  may  just,  perhaps,  put  in  a  single 
appearance  at  the  end  of  the  piece,  under  the  somewhat 
homely  personification  of  police-officer  Loyal. 

In  all  that  we  have  just  said  we  have  had  no  intention  of 
chipping  the  corners  of  Moliere's  pedestal ;  we  are  not  foolish 
enough  to  try  to  shake  this  bronze  colossus  with  our  puny 
arms  ;  we  simply  wished  to  demonstrate  to  the  pious 
journalists,  who  are  shocked  by  recent  romantic  works,  that 
the  ancient  classics,  which  every  day  they  recommend  us 
to  read  and  imitate,  far  surpass  them  in  wantonness  and 
immorality. 

With  Moliere  we  might  easily  join  both  Marivaux  and  La 
Fontaine,  those  two  very  opposite  expressions  of  the  French 
character,  and  Regnier,  and  Rabelais,  and  Marot,  and  many 
others.  But  our  intention  is  not  to  construct  here,  a  propos 
of  morality,  a  course  of  literature  for  the  use  of  the  virgins  of 
the  feuilleton. 


18  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

It  seems  to  me  that  they  should  not  make  so  much  ado 
about  so  little.  We  are,  happily,  no  longer  in  the  time  of  the 
fair  Eve,  and  we  cannot  in  conscience  be  as  primitive  and 
patriarchal  as  they  were  in  the  Ark,  We  are  not  little  girls 
preparing  for  their  first  communion,  and  when  we  play  at 
Crambo  we  do  not  answer  "cream-tart."  Our  artlessness  is 
tolerably  knowing,  and  our  virginity  has  been  about  town  for  a 
long  time.  These  are  among  the  things  which  we  cannot  have 
twice,  and  do  what  we  may,  we  cannot  recover  them ;  for  there 
is  nothing  in  the  world  that  goes  more  quickly  than  a  virginity 
which  departs  and  an  illusion  which  takes  to  flight. 

Perhaps  after  all  there  is  no  great  harm  done,  and  the  know- 
ledge of  everything  is  preferable  to  the  ignorance  of  everything. 
It  is  a  question  that  I  leave  to  be  discussed  by  those  who  are 
more  learned  than  I.  The  world  has,  at  all  events,  passed  the 
age  when  we  can  counterfeit  modesty  and  bashfulness,  and  I 
think  it  too  old  a  grey-beard  to  be  able  to  play  the  child  and 
virgin  without  making  itself  ridiculous. 

Since  her  marriage  with  civilisation,  society  has  lost  the  right 
of  being  ingenuous  and  bashful.  There  are  certain  blushings 
which  are  still  admissible  at  bed-time  on  the  part  of  the  bride, 
and  which  can  be  of  no  further  service  on  the  morrow;  for 
the  young  woman  perhaps  remembers  the  young  girl  no  longer, 
or,  if  she  does,  it  is  a  very  indecent  thing,  and  seriously 
compromises  her  husband's  reputation. 

When  I  chance  to  read  one  of  the  fine  sermons  which  have 
taken  the  place  of  literary  criticism  in  the  public  prints,  I  am 
sometimes  seized  with  great  remorse  and  apprehension,  I  who 
have  on  my  conscience  sundry  small  jokes  somewhat  too 
highly  spiced,  such  as  a  young  man  with  life  and  spirit  may 
have  to  reproach  himself  with. 

Beside  these  Eossuets  of  the  Cafe  de  Paris,  these  Bourdaloues 
of  the  balcony  at  the  Opera,  these  Catos  at  so  much  a  line, 
who  scold  the  century  in  such  fine  fashion,  I,  in  fact,  look  upon 
myself  as  the  most  terrible  rascal  that  has  ever  polluted  the 
face  of  the  earth,  and  yet,  heaven  knows,  the  nomenclature  of 
my  sins,  capital  as  well  as  venial,  with  the  margins  and  spaces 


PREFACE.  19 

strictly  observed,  would  scarcely,  in  the  hands  of  the  most  skil- 
ful bookseller,  make  up  one  or  two  octavo  volumes  a  day, 
which  is  little  enough  for  one  who  makes  no  pretension  of 
going  to  paradise  in  the  next  world,  and  of  winning  the 
Monthyon  prize  or  of  carrying  off  the  rose  in  this. 

Then,  when  I  think  that  I  have  met  with  rather  a  large 
number  of  these  dragons  of  virtue  beneath  the  table,  and  even 
elsewhere,  I  get  a  better  opinion  of  myself,  and  estimate  that, 
with  all  the  faults  that  I  may  have,  they  have  another,  which 
is,  in  my  eyes,  the  very  greatest  and  worst  of  all,  and  that  is 
hypocrisy. 

If  we  looked  carefully,  we  might  perhaps  find  another  little 
vice  to  add,  but  it  is  one  so  hideous,  that  in  truth  I  scarcely 
dare  name  it.  Come  close,  and  I  will  whisper  its  name  into 
your  ear :  it  is  envy. 

Envy,  and  nothing  else. 

It  is  this  that  goes  creeping  and  winding  through  all  these 
paternal  homilies.  However  careful  it  may  be  to  conceal  itself, 
it  may  from  time  to  time  be  seen  gleaming  above  metaphors 
and  figures  of  rhetoric  with  its  little  flat  viper's  head ;  it  may  be 
surprised  licking  its  venom-blued  lips  with  its  forked  tongue ; 
it  may  be  heard  hissing  softly  in  the  shade  of  an  insidious 
epithet. 

I  know  perfectly  well  that  it  is  insufferable  conceit  to  pretend 
that  you  are  envied,  and  that  it  is  almost  as  nauseous  as  a  cox- 
comb vaunting  his  good  fortune.  I  am  not  so  boastful  as  to 
believe  that  I  am  hated  and  envied ;  that  is  a  happiness  which 
is  not  given  to  everybody,  and  it  will  probably  be  long  before  I 
have  it.  Thus  I  shall  speak  freely  and  unreservedly,  as  one 
quite  disinterested  in  the  matter. 

One  thing  which  is  certain  and  easy  of  demonstration  to  those 
who  might  doubt  its  existence,  is  the  natural  antipathy  of  the 
critic  to  the  poet,  of  him  who  makes  nothing  to  him  who 
makes  something,  of  the  drone  to  the  bee,  of  the  gelding  to 
the  stallion. 

You  do  not  become  a  critic  until  it  has  been  completely 
established  to  your  own  satisfaction  that  you  canaat  be  a  poet. 


20  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

Before  descending  to  the  melancholy  office  of  taking  care  of  the 
cloaks,  and  noting  the  strokes  like  a  billiard-marker  or  a  servant 
at  the  tennis-court,  you  long  courted  the  Muse  and  sought  to 
win  her  virginity ;  but  you  had  not  sufficient  vigour  to  do  so,  your 
breath  failed  you,  and  you  fell  back  pale  and  worn  to  the  foot 
of  the  holy  mountain. 

I  can  understand  this  hatred.  It  is  painful  to  see  another 
sit  down  at  a  banquet  to  which  you  have  not  been  invited,  and 
sleep  with  a  woman  who  would  have  nothing  to  say  to  you. 
With  all  my  heart,  I  pity  the  poor  eunuch  who  is  obliged  to  be 
present  at  the  diversions  of  the  Grand  Seignior. 

He  is  admitted  into  the  most  secret  depths  of  the  Oda ;  he 
conducts  the  Sultanas  to  the  bath ;  he  sees  their  beautiful 
bodies  glistening  beneath  the  silver  water  of  the  great  reservoirs, 
streaming  with  pearls  and  smoother  than  agates;  the  most 
hidden  beauties  are  unveiled  to  him.  His  presence  is  no 
restraint — he  is  a  eunuch.  The  Sultan  caresses  his  favourite 
before  him,  and  kisses  her  on  her  pomegranate  lips.  His 
position  is,  in  truth,  a  very  false  one,  and  he  must  feel  greatly 
embarrassed. 

It  is  the  same  with  the  critic  who  sees  the  poet  walking  in 
the  garden  of  poesy  with  his  nine  fair  odalisques,  and  dis- 
porting idly  in  the  shade  of  large  green  laurels.  It  is  difficult 
for  him  not  to  pick  up  the  stones  on  the  highway  to  cast  them 
at  him,  and,  if  he  be  skilful  enough  to  do  so,  wound  him  behind 
his  own  wall. 

The  critic  who  has  produced  nothing  is  a  coward,  like  an 
Abbe  who  courts  the  wife  of  a  layman.  The  latter  can  neither 
retaliate  nor  fight  with  him. 

I  think  that  the  history  of  the  different  ways  of  depreciating 
any  work  for  a  month  past  would  be  at  least  as  curious  as 
that  of  Teglath-Phalasar  or  Gemmagog  who  invented  pointed 
shoes. 

There  are  materials  enough  for  fifteen  or  sixteen  folios,  but 
we  will  take  pity  on  the  reader  and  confine  ourselves  to  a 
few  lines — a  benefit  for  which  we  expect  more  than  eternal 
gratitude.  At  a  very  remote  epoch,  which  is  lost  in  the  mist 


PREFACE.  21 

of  ages,  very  nearly  three  weeks  ago,  the  romance  of  the  middle 
ages  flourished  principally  in  Paris  and  the  suburbs.  The 
coat  of  arms  was  held  in  great  honour ;  head-dresses,  a  la 
Hennin,  were  not  despised,  parti-coloured  trousers  were 
esteemed  ;  the  dagger  was  beyond  all  price  ;  the  pointed  shoe 
was  worshipped  like  a  fetich.  There  was  nothing  but  ogives, 
turrets,  little  columns,  coloured  glass,  cathedrals,  and  strong 
castles ;  there  was  nothing  but  damozels  and  squires,  pages 
and  varlets,  vagrants  and  veterans,  gallant  knights  and  fierce 
castellans ;  all  being  things  which  were  certainly  more  innocent 
than  innocent  pastimes,  and  which  did  nobody  any  harm. 

The  critic  had  not  waited  for  the  second  romance  in  order 
to  begin  his  work  of  depreciation.  No  sooner  had  the  first 
appeared  than  he  had  wrapped  himself  up  in  his  cloth  of 
camel's  hair,  poured  a  bushel  of  ashes  on  his  head,  and  then, 
assuming  that  loud  and  doleful  tone  of  his,  begun  to  cry 
out: — 

"  Still  the  middle  ages,  always  the  middle  ages  !  who  will 
deliver  me  from  the  middle  ages,  from  these  middle  ages  that 
are  not  the  middle  ages?  Middle  ages  of  cardboard  and 
baked  clay,  which  have  nothing  of  the  middle  ages  but  their 
name.  O  the  iron  barons  in  their  iron  armour,  with  their 
iron  hearts  in  their  iron  breasts !  O  the  cathedrals  with 
their  ever  full-blown  roses,  and  their  flowered  glass,  their  lace- 
work  of  granite,  their  open  trefoils,  their  gables  cut  like  a  saw, 
their  stone  chasubles  embroidered  like  a  bride's  veil,  their 
tapers,  their  chants,  their  glittering  priests,  their  kneeling 
people,  their  droning  organs,  and  their  angels  hovering  and 
flapping  their  wings  beneath  the  vaulted  roofs  !  How  have  they 
spoiled  my  middle  ages,  my  middle  ages  so  delicate  and  bright ! 
How  have  they  hidden  them  beneath  a  coating  of  coarse 
badigeon  !  What  loud  over-colouring  !  Ah !  ignorant  daubers, 
who  think  that  you  have  produced  colour  by  laying  red  upon 
blue,  white  upon  black,  and  green  upon  yellow ;  you  have 
seen  nothing  of  the  middle  ages  but  their  shell,  you  have  not 
•divined  the  soul  of  the  middle  ages,  no  blood  circulates 
•beneath  the  skin  with  which  you  clothe  your  phantoms,  there 


22  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUP1N. 

is  no  heart  in  your  corselets  of  steel,  there  are  no  legs  in  your 
trousers  of  wool,  there  is  neither  body  nor  breast  behind  your 
emblazoned  skirts.  They  are  garments  having  human  form, 
and  that  is  all.  Then  away  with  the  middle  ages,  as  they  have 
been  made  by  the  fabricators  (the  word  is  out !  the  fabricators !) 
The  middle  ages  are  unsuitable  now ;  we  want  something 
else." 

And  the  public,  seeing  the  journalists  barking  against  the 
middle  ages,  was  seized  with  a  great  passion  for  these  poor 
middle  ages,  which  they  pretended  that  they  had  slain  at  a 
blow.  The  middle  ages  invaded  everything,  assisted  by  the 
obstruction  of  the  papers;  dramas,  melodramas,  romances, 
novels,  poems,  there  were  even  vaudevilles  of  the  middle  ages, 
and  Momus  repeated  feudal  jollities. 

By  the  side  of  the  romance  of  the  middle  ages  sprouted  the 
carrion  romance,  a  very  agreeable  kind,  largely  consumed  by 
nervous  women  of  fashion  and  blase  cooks. 

The  journalists  very  soon  scented  it  out,  as  crows  do  the 
quarry,  and  with  the  beaks  of  their  pens  they  dismembered 
and  wickedly  put  to  death  this  poor  species  of  romance,  which 
only  sought  to  prosper  and  putrefy  peaceably  on  the  greasy 
shelves  of  circulating  libraries  What  did  they  not  say  ?  What 
did  they  not  write  ?  Literature  of  the  Morgue  or  the  galleys, 
nightmare  of  the  hangman,  hallucination  of  drunken  butchers 
and  hot-fevered  convict-keepers  !  They  benignly  gave  us  to 
understand  that  the  authors  were  assassins  and  vampires,  that 
they  had  contracted  the  vicious  habit  of  killing  their  fathers 
and  mothers,  that  they  drank  blood  in  skulls,  used  tibias 
instead  of  forks,  and  cut  their  bread  with  a  guillotine. 

And  yet,  seeing  that  they  had  often  breakfasted  with  them, 
no  one  knew  better  than  they  did  that  the  authors  of  these 
charming  butcheries  were  honourable  men  of  family,  gentle,  and 
mixing  in  good  society,  white  gloved,  fashionably  short-sighted, 
more  ready  to  feed  on  beef-steaks  than  on  human  cutlets,  and 
more  accustomed  to  drink  Bordeaux  than  the  blood  of  young 
girls  or  new-born  infants.  And  from  having  seen  and  touched 
their  manuscripts,  they  knew  perfectly  well  that  they  were 


PREFACE,.  23 

written  with  most  virtuous  ink  upon  English  paper,  and  not 
with  blood  from  the  guillotine  upon  the  skin  of  a  Christian 
flayed  alive. 

But  do  or  say  what  they  might,  the  age  was  disposed  for 
carrion,  and  the  charnel-house  pleased  it  better  than  the 
boudoir ;  the  reader  could  only  be  captured  by  a  hook  baited 
with  a  little  corpse  beginning  to  turn  blue.  A  very  conceivable 
thing ;  put  a  rose  at  the  end  of  your  line,  and  spiders  will  have 
time  enough  to  spin  their  webs  in  the  bend  of  your  arm — you 
will  not  take  the  smallest  fry  ;  but  fasten  on  a  worm  or  a  bit  of 
old  cheese,  and  carp,  barbel,  perch,  and  eels  will  leap  three  feet 
out  of  the  water  to  snap  it.  Men  are  not  so  different  from  fish 
as  people  seem  generally  to  believe. 

You  would  have  thought  that  the  journalists  had  become 
Quakers,  Brahmins,  Pythagoreans,  or  bulls,  they  had  suddenly 
taken  such  a  horror  to  redness  and  blood.  Never  had  they 
been  seen  so  melting,  so  emollient ;  it  was  like  cream  and 
whey.  They  admitted  two  colours  only,  sky-blue  and  apple- 
green.  Pink  was  only  tolerated,  and  they  would  have  led  the 
public,  had  it  allowed  them,  to  feed  on  spinach  on  the  banks 
of  the  Lignon  side  by  side  with  the  sheep  of  Amaryllis.  They 
had  changed  their  black  dress- coat  for  the  turtledove-coloured 
jacket  of  Celadon  or  Silvander,  and  surrounded  their  goose- 
quills  with  tufts  of  roses  and  favours  after  the  fashion  of  the 
pastoral  crook.  They  allowed  their  hah  to  flow  down  like  a 
child's,  and  they  had  manufactured  virginities,  according  to 
Marion  Delorme's  recipe,  in  which  they  had  succeeded  as  well 
as  she  did. 

They  applied  to  literature  the  article  of  the  Decalogue : 
"  Thou  shalt  not  kill." 

The  smallest  dramatic  murder  was  no  longer  permitted,  and 
the  fifth  act  had  become  impossible. 

They  deemed  the  dagger  extravagant,  poison  monstrous,  and 
the  axe  without  excuse.  They  would  have  had  dramatic  heroes 
live  to  the  age  of  Melchisedec,  although  it  has  been  recog- 
nised from  time  immemorial  that  the  end  of  all  tragedy  is  to 
kill,  in  the  last  scene,  a  poor  devil  of  a  great  man  who  cannot 


24  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

help  himself,  just  as  the  end  of  all  comedy  is  to  unite  matri- 
monially two  fools  of  lovers  each  about  sixty  years  of  age. 

It  was  about  this  time  that  I  threw  into  the  fire  (after  taking 
duplicates,  as  is  always  done)  two  superb  and  magnificent 
dramas  of  the  middle  ages,  one  in  verse  and  the  other  in  prose, 
the  heroes  of  which  were  quartered  and  boiled  in  the  middle  of 
the  stage — an  incident  which  would  have  been  very  jovial  and 
somewhat  unprecedented. 

In  order  to  conform  to  their  ideas,  I  have  since  composed  an 
ancient  tragedy,  in  five  acts,  called  "  Heliogabalus,"  the  hero  oi 
which  throws  himself  into  the  water-closet,  an  extremely  novel 
situation  which  has  the  advantage  of  introducing  a  decoration 
not  as  yet  seen  on  the  stage.  I  have  also  written  a  modern 
drama  far  superior  to  "  Antony,"  "  Arthur,  or  the  Fatal  Man,"  in 
which  the  providential  idea  occurs  in  the  shape  of  a  Strasburg 
pate  de  foie  gras,  which  the  hero  eats  to  the  last  crumb  after 
effecting  several  rapes,  and  this  joined  to  his  remorse  gives  him 
an  abominable  attack  of  indigestion,  of  which  he  dies.  A 
moral  termination,  if  ever  there  was  one,  proving  that  God  is 
fust,  and  that  vice  is  always  punished  and  virtue  rewarded. 

As  to  the  monstrous  kind,  you  know  how  they  have  treated 
it,  how  they  have  settled  Hans  of  Iceland,  the  man-eater; 
Habibrah,  the  Obi ;  Quasimodo,  the  bell-ringer ;  and  Triboulet, 
who  was  only  a  hunchback; — all  that  strangely  swarming  family 
— all  those  gigantic  creatures  that  my  dear  neighbour  makes 
crawl  and  skip  through  the  virgin  forests  and  cathedrals  of 
his  romances.  Neither  grand  features  like  Michael  Angelo's, 
nor  curiosities  worthy  of  Callot,  nor  effects  of  light  and  shade 
after  the  manner  of  Goya — nothing  could  find  favour  in  their 
eyes ;  they  sent  him  back  to  his  odes  when  he  composed 
romances,  and  to  his  romances  when  he  composed  dramas — 
tactics  common  with  journalists,  who  always  prefer  what  a  man 
has  done  to  what  he  does.  Happy  the  man,  nevertheless,  who 
is  recognised  by  the  feuilleton  writers  as  superior  in  all  his 
works,  excepting  of  course  that  one  with  which  they  are  dealing, 
and  who  would  only  have  to  write  a  theological  treatise  or  a 
cookery  book  to  have  his  stage  deemed  admirable ! 


PREFACE.  25 

As  for  the  romance  of  the  heart,  the  ardent  and  impas- 
sioned romance  whose  father  is  the  German  Werther,  and 
whose  mother  is  the  French  Manon  Lescaut,  we  have  alluded, 
at  the  beginning  of  this  preface,  to  the  moral  scurf  which  is 
desperately  attached  to  it  under  pretence  of  religion  and  good 
morals.  Critical  lice  are  like  bodily  lice,  which  desert  corpses 
to  seek  the  living.  From  the  corpse  of  the  romance  of  the 
middle  ages  the  critics  have  passed  to  the  body  of  this  other, 
whose  skin  is  hard  and  healthy  and  might  well  injure  their 
teeth. 

We  think,  in  spite  of  all  the  respect  that  we  have  for  the 
modern  apostles,  that  the  authors  of  the  so-called  immoral 
novels,  without  being  married  to  the  same  extent  as  the  vir- 
tuous journalists,  have  commonly  enough  a  mother,  and  that 
many  of  them  have  sisters,  and  are  abundantly  provided  with 
female  relations ;  but  their  mothers  and  sisters  do  not  read 
novels,  even  immoral  ones;  they  sew,  embroider,  and  busy 
themselves  with  household  matters.  Their  stockings,  as 
Monsieur  Planard  would  say,  are  perfectly  white  ;  you  may 
look  at  their  legs,  they  are  not  blue ;  and  Chrysale,  good  man, 
who  had  such  a  hatred  for  leaned  women,  might  hold  them  up 
as  an  example  to  the  learned  Philaminte. 

As  to  the  spouses  of  these  gentlemen,  since  they  have  so  much 
of  them,  I  certainly  think  that,  however  virginal  their  husbands 
may  be,  there  are  sundry  things  which  they  ought  to  know. 
It  may  be  indeed  that  they  have  been  taught  nothing.  In  that 
case,  I  understand  the  anxiety  to  keep  them  in  this  precious 
and  blessed  state  of  ignorance.  God  is  great,  and  Mahomet  is 
His  prophet !  Women  are  inquisitive ;  Heaven  and  morality 
grant  that  they  may  satisfy  their  curiosity  in  a  more  legitimate 
fashion  than  did  their  grandmother  Eve,  and  ask  no  questions 
of  the  serpent ! 

As  for  their  daughters,  if  they  have  been  to  a  boarding- 
school,  I  do  not  see  what  these  books  could  teach  them. 

It  is  as  absurd  to  say  that  a  man  is  a  drunkard  because  he 
describes  an  orgie,  or  a  debauchee  because  he  recounts  a 
debauch,  as  to  pretend  that  a  man  is  virtuous  because  he  ha? 


26  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

written  a  moral  book ;  every  day  we  see  the  contrary.  It  is 
the  character  who  speaks  and  not  the  author ;  the  fact  that  his 
hero  is  an  atheist  does  not  make  him  an  atheist ;  his  brigands 
act  and  speak  like  brigands,  but  he  is  not  therefore  a.  brigand 
himself.  At  that  rate  it  would  be  necessary  to  guillotine 
Shakespeare,  Corneille,  and  all  the  tragic  writers;  they  have 
committed  more  murders  than  Mandrin  and  Cartouche.  This 
has,  nevertheless,  not  been  done,  and  I  think  that  it  will  be 
long  before  it  is  done,  however  virtuous  and  moral  criticism 
may  come  to  be.  It  is  one  of  the  manias  of  these  narrow- 
brained  scribblers  to  substitute  always  the  author  for  the  work 
and  have  recourse  to  personalities,  in  order  to  give  some  poor 
scandalous  interest  to  their  wretched  rhapsodies,  which  they 
are  quite  aware  nobody  would  read  if  they  contained  only  their 
own  individual  opinions. 

We  find  it  hard  to  understand  the  purport  of  all  this  bawling, 
the  good  of  all  this  temper  and  despair,  and  who  it  is  that 
impels  the  miniature  Geoffreys  to  constitute  themselves  the 
Don  Quixotes  of  morality,  and,  like  true  literary  policemen,  to 
seize  and  cudgel,  in  the  name  of  virtue,  every  idea  which  makes 
its  appearance  in  a  book  with  its  mob-cap  awry  or  its  skirt 
tucked  up  a  little  too  high.  It  is  very  singular. 

Say  what  they  will,  the  age  is  an  immoral  one  (if  this  word 
signifies  anything,  of  which  we  have  strong  doubts),  and 
we  wish  for  no  other  proof  than  the  quantity  of  immoral 
books  it  produces  and  the  success  that  attends  them.  Looks 
follow  morals,  and  not  morals  books.  The  Regency  made 
Cre'billon,  and  not  Crdbillon  the  Regency.  Boucher's  little 
shepherdesses  had  their  faces  painted  and  their  bosoms  bare, 
because  the  little  marchionesses  had  the  same.  Pictures  are 
made  according  to  models,  and  not  models  according  to 
pictures.  Some  one  has  said  somewhere  that  literature  and  the 
arts  influence  morals.  Whoever  he  was,  he  was  undoubtedly  a 
great  fool.  It  was  like  saying  green  peas  make  the  spring 
grow,  whereas  green  peas  grow  because  it  is  spring,  and 
cherries  because  it  is  summer.  Trees  bear  fruits ;  it  is  certainly 
i»ot  the  fruits  that  bear  the  trees,  and  this  law  is  eternal  and 


PREFACE.  27 

invariable  in  its  variety ;  the  centuries  follow  one  another,  and 
each  bears  its  own  fruit,  which  is  not  that  of  the  preceding 
century  ;  books  are  the  fruits  of  morals. 

By  the  side  of  the  moral  journalists,  under  this  rain  of 
homilies  as  under  summer  rain  in  some  park,  there  has  sprung 
up  between  the  planks  of  the  Saint-Simonian  stage  a  theory 
of  little  mushrooms,  of  a  novel  and  somewhat  curious  species, 
whose  natural  history  we  are  about  to  give. 

These  are  the  utilitarian  critics.  Poor  fellows  !  Their  noses 
are  too  short  to  admit  of  their  wearing  spectacles,  and  yet  they 
cannot  see  the  length  of  their  noses. 

If  an  author  threw  a  volume  of  romance  or  poetry  on  their 
desk,  these  gentlemen  would  turn  round  carelessly  in  their  easy 
chair,  poise  it  on  its  hinder  legs,  and  balancing  themselves  with 
a  capable  air,  say  loftily  : — 

"  What  purpose  does  this  book  serve  ?  How  can  it  be 
applied  for  the  moralisation  and  well-being  of  the  poorest  and 
most  numerous  class  ?  What !  not  a  word  of  the  needs  of 
society,  nothing  about  civilisation  and  progress  ?  How  can  a 
man,  instead  of  making  the  great  synthesis  of  humanity,  and 
pursuing  the  regenerating  and  providential  idea  through  the 
events  of  history,  how  can  he  write  novels  and  poems  which 
lead  to  nothing,  and  do  not  advance  our  generation  on  the  path 
of  the  future  ?  How  can  he  busy  himself  with  form,  and  style, 
and  rhyme  in  the  presence  of  such  grave  interests  ?  What  are 
style,  and  rhyme,  and  form  to  us?  They  are  of  no  conse- 
quence (poor  foxes  !  they  are  too  sour).  Society  is  suffering,  it 
is  a  prey  to  great  internal  anguish  (translate — no  one  will  sub- 
scribe to  utilitarian  journals).  It  is  for  the  poet  to  seek  the 
cause  of  this  uneasiness  and  to  cure  it.  He  will  find  the  means 
of  doing  so  by  sympathising  from  his  heart  and  soul  with 
humanity — (philanthropic  poets  !  they  would  be  something 
uncommon  and  charming).  This  poet  we  await,  and  on  him 
we  call  with  all  our  vows.  When  he  appears,  his  will  be  the 
acclamations  of  the  crowd,  his  the  palm,  his  the  crown,  his  the 
Prytaneum." 

Well   and  good  1     But   as    we   wish   our  reader  to  remain 


28  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

awake  until  the  end  of  this  blissful  preface,  we  shall  not  con- 
tinue this  very  faithful  imitation  of  the  utilitarian  style,  which  is, 
in  its  nature,  tolerably  soporific,  and  might,  with  advantage,  take 
the  place  of  laudanum  and  Academic  discourses. 

No,  fools,  no,  goitrous  cretins  that  you  are,  a  book  does  not 
make  gelatine  soup ;  a  novel  is  not  a  pair  of  seamless  boots ;  a 
sonnet,  a  syringe  with  a  continuous  jet ;  or  a  drama,  a  railwaj 
— all  things  which  are  essentially  civilising  and  adapted  to 
advance  humanity  on  its  path  of  progress. 

By  the  guts  of  all  the  popes  past,  present,  and  future,  no,  and 
two  hundred  thousand  times  no  ! 

We  cannot  make  a  cotton  cap  out  of  a  metonymy,  or  put  on 
a  comparison  like  a  slipper ;  we  cannot  use  an  antithesis  as  an 
umbrella,  and  we  cannot,  unfortunately,  lay  a  medley  of  rhymes 
on  our  body  after  the  fashion  of  a  waistcoat.  I  have  an  inti- 
mate conviction  that  an  ode  is  too  light  a  garment  for  winter, 
and  that  we  should  not  be  better  clad  in  strophe,  antistrophe, 
and  epode  than  was  the  cynic's  wife  who  contented  herself 
with  merely  her  virtue  as  chemise,  and  went  about  as  naked 
as  one's  hand,  so  history  relates. 

However,  the  celebrated  Monsieur  de  La  Calprenede  had 
once  a  coat,  and  when  asked  of  what  material  it  was  made,  he 
replied,  "  Of  Silvandre."  Silvandre  was  the  name  of  a  piece 
which  he  had  just  brought  out  with  success. 

Such  arguments  make  one  elevate  one's  shoulders  above  the 
head,  and  higher  than  the  Duke  of  Gloucester's. 

People  who  pretend  to  be  economists,  and  who  wish  to  re- 
construct society  from  top  to  bottom,  seriously  advance  similar 
nonsense. 

A  novel  has  two  uses — one  material  and  the  other  spiritual 
— if  we  may  employ  such  an  expression  in  reference  to  a 
novel.  Its  material  use  means  first  of  all  some  thousands  of 
francs  which  find  their  way  into  the  author's  pocket,  and 
ballast  him  in  such  a  fashion  that  neither  devil  nor  wind  can 
carry  him  off;  to  the  bookseller,  it  means  a  fine  thoroughbred 
horse,  pawing  and  prancing  with  its  cabriolet  of  ebony  and 
steei,  as  Figaro  says ;  to  the  papermaker,  another  mill  beside 


PREFACE.  29 

some  stream  or  other,  and  often  the  means  of  spoiling  a  fine 
site ;  to  the  printers,  some  tons  of  logwood  for  the  weekly 
staining  of  their  throats  ;  to  the  circulating  library,  some  piles  of 
pence  covered  with  very  proletarian  verdigris,  and  a  quantity  of 
fat  which,  if  it  were  properly  collected  and  utilised,  would 
render  whale-fishing  superfluous.  Its  spiritual  use  is  that 
when  reading  novels  we  sleep,  and  do  not  read  useful,  virtuous, 
and  progressive  journals,  or  other  similarly  indigestible  and 
stupefying  drugs. 

Let  any  one  say  after  this  that  novels  do  not  contribute  to 
civilisation.  I  say  nothing  of  tobacco-sellers,  grocers,  and 
dealers  in  fried  potatoes,  who  have  a  very  great  interest  in  this 
branch  of  literature,  the  paper  employed  in  it  being  commonly 
of  a  superior  quality  to  that  of  newspapers. 

In  truth,  it  is  enough  to  make  one  burst  with  laughing  to 
hear  the  dissertations  of  these  Republican  or  Saint-Simonian 
utilitarian  gentlemen.  I  should,  first  of  all,  very  much  like  to 
know  the  precise  meaning  of  this  great  lanky  substantive  with 
which  the  void  in  their  columns  is  daily  truffled,  and  which 
serves  them  as  a  Shibboleth  and  sacramental  term — utility. 
What  is  this  word,  and  to  what  is  it  applicable  ? 

There  are  two  sorts  of  utility,  and  the  meaning  of  the 
vocable  is  always  a  relative  one.  What  is  useful  for  one  is 
not  useful  for  another.  You  are  a  cobbler,  I  am  a  poet.  It 
is  useful  to  me  to  have  my  first  verse  rhyme  with  my  second. 
A  rhyming  dictionary  is  of  great  utility  to  me ;  you  do  not 
want  it  to  cobble  an  old  pair  of  boots,  and  it  is  only  right  to 
say  that  a  shoe-knife  would  not  be  of  great  service  to  me  in 
making  an  ode.  To  this  you  will  object  that  a  cobbler  is  far 
above  a  poet,  and  that  people  can  do  without  the  one  better 
than  without  the  other.  Without  affecting  to  disparage  the 
illustrious  profession  of  cobbler,  which  I  honour  equally  with 
that  of  constitutional  monarch,  I  humbly  confess  that  I  would 
rather  have  my  shoe  unstitched  than  my  verse  badly  rhymed, 
and  that  I  should  be  more  willing  to  go  without  boots  than 
without  poems.  Scarcely  ever  going  out,  and  walking  more 
skilfully  with  my  head  than  with  my  feet,  I  wear  out  fewer  shoes 


30  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

than  a  virtuous  Republican,  who  is  always  hastening  from  one 
minister  to  another  in  the  hope  of  having  some  place  flung  to 
him. 

I  know  that  there  are  some  who  prefer  mills  to  churches, 
and  bread  for  the  body  to  that  for  the  soul.  To  such  I  have 
nothing  to  say.  They  deserve  to  be  economists  in  this  world 
and  also  in  the  next. 

Is  there  anything  absolutely  useful  on  this  earth  and  in  this 
life  of  ours  ?  To  begin  with,  it  is  not  very  useful  that  we  are  on 
the  earth  and  alive.  I  defy  the  most  learned  of  the  band  to 
tell  us  of  what  use  we  are,  unless  it  be  to  not  subscribe  to  the 
"  Constitutionnel,"  nor  any  other  species  of  journal  whatso- 
ever. 

Next,  the  utility  of  our  existecce  being  admitted  a  priori, 
what  are  the  things  really  useful  lor  supporting  it  ?  Some 
soup  and  a  piece  of  meat  twice  a  day  is  all  that  is  necessary  to 
fill  the  stomach  in  the  strict  acceptation  of  the  word.  Man 
who  finds  a  coffin  six  feet  long  by  two  wide  more  than  sufficient 
after  his  death  does  not  need  much  more  room  during  his  life. 
A  hollow  cube  measuring  seven  or  eight  feet  every  way,  with  a 
hole  to  breathe  through,  a  single  cell  in  the  hive,  nothing 
more  is  wanted  to  lodge  him  and  keep  the  rain  off  his  back. 
A  blanket  properly  rolled  around  his  body  will  protect  him  as 
well  and  better  against  the  cold  than  the  most  elegant  and  best 
cut  dress  coat  by  Staub. 

With  this  he  will  be  able,  literally,  to  subsist.  It  is  truly 
said  that  it  is  possible  to  live  on  a  shilling  a  day.  But  to 
prevent  one's-self  from  dying  is  not  living ;  and  I  do  not  see  in 
what  respect  a  town  organised  after  the  utilitarian  fashion 
would  be  more  agreeable  to  dwell  in  than  the  cemetery  of 
Pere-la-Chaise. 

Nothing  that  is  beautiful  is  indispensable  to  life.  You  might 
suppress  flowers,  and  the  world  would  not  suffer  materially;  yet 
who  would  wish  that  there  were  no  more  flowers  ?  I  would 
rather  give  up  potatoes  than  roses,  and  I  think  that  there  is 
none  but  an  utilitarian  in  the  world  capable  of  pulling  up  a 
bed  of  tulips  in  order  to  plant  cabbages  therein. 


PREFACE.  31 

What  is  the  use  of  women's  beauty  ?  Provided  that  a 
woman  be  medically  well  formed,  and  in  condition  to  bear 
children,  she  will  always  be  good  enough  for  economists. 

What  is  the  good  of  music  ?  of  painting  ?  Who  would  be 
foolish  enough  to  prefer  Mozart  to  Monsieur  Carrel,  and 
Michael  Angelo  to  the  inventor  of  white  mustard  ? 

There  is  nothing  truly  beautiful  but  that  which  can  never  be 
of  any  use  whatsoever ;  everything  useful  is  ugly,  for  it  is  the 
expression  of  some  need,  and  man's  needs  are  ignoble  and 
disgusting  like  his  own  poor  and  infirm  nature.  The  most 
useful  place  in  a  house  is  the  water-closet. 

For  my  own  part,  may  it  please  these  gentlemen,  I  am  one 
of  those  to  whom  superfluity  is  a  necessity — and  I  like  things 
and  persons  in  an  inverse  ratio  to  the  services  that  they 
render  me.  I  prefer  a  Chinese  vase,  strewn  with  dragons 
and  mandarins,  and  of  no  use  to  me  whatever,  to  a  certain  utensil 
which  is  of  service  to  me,  and  of  my  talents  the  one  I  esteem 
the  most  is  my  incapacity  for  guessing  logogriphs  and  charades. 
I  would  most  joyfully  renounce  my  rights  as  a  Frenchman  and 
a  citizen  to  see  an  authentic  picture  by  Raphael,  or  a  beautiful 
woman  naked — Princess  Borghese,  for  instance,  when  she  posed 
for  Canova,  or  Julia  Grisi  entering  her  bath.  I  would  willingly 
consent,  so  far  as  I  am  concerned,  to  the  return  of  the  anthro- 
pophagous Charles  X,  if  he  brought  me  back  a  hamper  of 
Tokay  or  Johannisberger  from  his  Bohemian  castle,  and  I 
would  deem  the  electoral  laws  sufficiently  wide,  if  some  streets 
were  more  so  and  some  other  things  less.  Although  I  am  no 
dilletante,  I  would  rather  have  the  noise  of  fiddles  and  tam- 
bourines than  that  of  the  bell  of  the  President  of  the  Chamber. 
I  would  sell  my  breeches  for  a  ring,  and  my  bread  for  pre- 
serves. It  appears  to  me  that  the  most  fitting  occupation 
for  a  civilised  man  is  to  do  nothing,  or  to  smoke  analytically 
his  pipe  or  cigar.  I  also  highly  esteem  those  who  play  skittles 
and  those  who  make  good  verses.  You  see  that  the  utilitarian 
principles  are  far  from  being  mine,  and  that  I  shall  never  be  a 
contributor  to  a  virtuous  journal,  unless,  of  course,  I  become 
converted,  which  would  be  rather  comical. 


J2  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

Instead  of  offering  a  Monthyon  prize  as  the  reward  of  virtue, 
1  would  rather,  like  that  great  but  misunderstood  philosopher 
Sardanapalus,  give  a  large  premium  to  any  one  inventing  a  new 
pleasure ;  for  enjoyment  appears  to  me  to  be  the  end  of  life 
and  the  only  useful  thing  in  the  world.  God  has  willed  it  so, 
He  who  has  made  women,  perfumes,  light,  beautiful  flowers, 
good  wines,  frisky  horses,  greyhound-bitches,  and  Angora  cats  ; 
He  who  did  not  say  to  His  angels,  "  Have  virtue,"  but  "  Have 
love,"  and  who  has  given  us  a  rnouth  more  sensitive  than  the 
rest  of  our  skin  to  kiss  women,  eyes  raised  on  high  to  see  the 
light,  a  subtle  power  of  smell  to  breathe  the  soul  of  flowers, 
sinewy  thighs  to  press  the  sides  of  stallions,  and  to  fly  as  quick 
as  thought  without  railway  or  steam-boiler,  delicate  hands  to 
stroke  the  long  head  of  a  greyhound,  the  velvety  back  of  a  cat, 
and  the  smooth  shoulders  of  a  creature  of  easy  virtue,  and  who 
finally  has  granted  to  us  alone  the  triple  and  glorious  privilege 
of  drinking  when  without  thirst,  of  striking  a  light,  and  of 
making  love  at  all  seasons,  a  privilege  which  distinguishes  us 
from  brutes  far  more  than  the  custom  of  reading  papers  and 
fabricating  charters. 

Good  heavens  !  what  a  foolish  thing  is  this  pretended  per- 
fectibility of  the  human  race  which  is  continually  being  dinned 
into  our  ears  !  One  would  think,  in  truth,  that  man  is  a 
machine  susceptible  of  improvements,  and  that  some  wheel- 
work  in  better  gear  or  a  counterpoise  more  suitably  placed 
would  make  him  work  in  a  more  convenient  and  easy  fashion. 
When  they  succeed  in  giving  man  a  double  stomach  so  that  he 
may  ruminate  like  an  ox,  or  eyes  at  the  other  side  of  his  head 
that,  like  Janus,  he  may  see  those  who  put  out  their  tongues  at 
him  behind,  and  contemplate  his  indignity  in  a  less  incon- 
venient position  than  that  of  the  Athenian  Venus  Callipyge, 
when  they  plant  wings  upon  his  shoulder-blades  that  he  may 
not  be  obliged  to  pay  threepence  for  an  omnibus,  and  create 
a  new  organ  for  him,  well  and  good  :  the  word  perfectibility 
will  then  begin  to  have  some  meaning. 

After  all  these  fine  improvements,  what  has  been  done  that 
was  not  done  as  well  and  better  before  the  flood  ? 


PREFACE.  33 

Have  people  succeeded  in  drinking  more  than  they  drank 
in  the  times  of  ignorance  and  barbarity  (old  style)  ?  Alexander, 
the  doubtful  friend  of  the  handsome  Hephaestion,  did  not 
drink  so  badly,  although  in  his  time  there  was  no  "  Journal  of 
Useful  Knowledge,"  and  I  do  not  know  of  any  utilitarian 
who  would  be  capable  of  draining  the  great  drinking  vessel 
that  he  called  the  cup  of  Hercules,  without  becoming  oinopic 
and  more  swelled  out  than  the  younger  Lepeintre  or  a 
hippopotamus. 

Marshal  de  Bassompierre,  who  emptied  his  great  funnel- 
shaped  boot  to  the  health  of  the  thirteen  cantons,  appears 
to  me  singularly  worthy  in  his  way  and  difficult  to  improve 
upon. 

What  economist  will  enlarge  our  stomachs  so  as  to  contain 
as  many  beef-steaks  as  did  the  late  Milo  of  Crotona  who  ate 
an  ox  ?  The  bill  of  fare  of  the  Cafe  Anglais,  of  VeTour's,  or  of 
any  other  culinary  celebrity  that  you  will,  appears  to  me  very 
meagre  and  oecumenical,  compared  with  the  bill  of  fare  of 
Trimalcio's  dinner.  At  what  table  do  they  now  serve  up  a  sow 
and  her  twelve  young  ones  in  a  single  dish  ?  Who  has  eaten 
sea-eels  and  lampreys  fattened  on  man  ?  Do  you  really  believe 
that  Brillat-Savarin  has  improved  on  Apicius  ? 

Could  that  great  tripe-man  of  a  Vitellius  fill  his  famous 
Minerva's  shield  at  Chevet's,  with  brains  of  pheasants  and 
peacocks,  tongues  of  flamingoes,  and  livers  of  scarus  ?  Your 
oysters  from  the  Rocher  de  Cancale  are  truly  rarities  beside 
the  Lucrine  oysters,  which  had  a  sea  made  expressly  for  them. 
The  little  suburban  villas  of  the  Marquises  of  the  Regency  are 
wretched  country-boxes  in  comparison  with  the  villas  of  the 
Roman  patricians  at  Baise,  Caprase,  and  Tibur.  Should  not 
the  Cyclopean  magnificence  of  those  great  voluptuaries  who 
built  eternal  monuments  for  the  pleasures  of  a  day  make  us  fall 
flat  on  the  ground  before  the  genius  of  the  ancients,  and  strike 
out  for  ever  from  our  dictionaries  the  word  perfectibility  ? 

Have  they  invented  a  single  capital  sin  the  more  ?  Un- 
fortunately, there  are  but  seven  as  before,  a  very  moderate 
number  of  falls  for  the  upright  man  per  day.  I  do  not  even  think 


34  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

that  after  a  century  of  progress,  at  the  rate  we  are  going,  any 
lover  will  be  able  to  repeat  the  thirteenth  labour  of  Hercules. 
Can  a  man  be  agreeable  to  his  divinity  even  once  oftener  than 
in  the  time  of  Solomon  ?  Many  very  illustrious,  learned  men, 
and  very  respectable  ladies,  hold  quite  the  contrary  opinion, 
and  maintain  that  amiability  is  decreasing.  Well,  then,  what 
is  the  use  of  speaking  of  progress  ?  I  am  quite  aware  that 
you  will  tell  me  that  we  have  an  Upper  and  a  Lower  Chamber, 
that  we  hope  that  everybody  will  soon  be  an  elector,  and  the 
number  of  representatives  doubled  or  tripled.  Do  you  think 
that  there  are  not  enough  mistakes  in  French  made  as  it 
is  on  the  national  tribune,  and  that  there  are  too  few  for  the 
evil  work  they  have  to  plot  ?  I  can  scarcely  understand 
the  utility  which  consists  in  penning  two  or  three  hundred 
provincials  in  a  wooden  hut,  with  a  ceiling  painted  by  Monsieur 
Fragonard,  to  have  them  jumble  and  blunder  any  number  of 
petty  laws  which  are  either  atrocious  or  absurd.  What  matters 
it  whether  it  be  a  sabre,  an  aspergill,  or  an  umbrella  that 
governs  you  ?  It  is  always  a  stick,  and  I  am  astonished  that 
men  of  progress  should  dispute  about  the  choice  of  a  cudgel 
to  tickle  their  shoulders,  when  it  would  be  much  more  pro- 
gressive and  less  expensive  to  break  it  and  throw  the  pieces  to 
all  the  devils. 

The  only  one  among  you  who  has  common-sense  is  a 
madman,  a  great  genius,  an  idiot,  a  divine  poet  far  above 
Lamartine,  Hugo,  and  Byron ;  he  is  Charles  Fourrier,  the 
phalansterian,  who  is  all  this  in  himself  alone :  he  alone  has 
displayed  logic  with  boldness  enough  to  follow  out  its  conse- 
quences to  the  end.  He  affirms  without  hesitation  that  men 
will  soon  have  a  tail  fifteen  feet  long,  with  an  eye  at  the 
extremity.  This  would  certainly  be  progress,  and  would  admit 
of  our  doing  a  thousand  fine  things  previously  impossible, 
such  as  killing  elephants  without  striking  a  blow,  swinging  on 
trees  without  swings  as  conveniently  as  the  best  conditioned 
ape,  doing  without  umbrella  or  parasol  by  spreading  the  tail 
over  our  heads  like  the  squirrels,  who  get  on  very  agreeably 
without  gamps,  together  with  other  prerogatives  which  it  would 


PREFACE.  35 

take  too  long  to  enumerate.  Many  phalansterians  even  pretend 
that  they  already  have  a  small  one,  which  is  ready  to  become 
larger,  if  God  but  grant  them  life. 

Charles  Fourrier  has  invented  as  many  species  of  animals  as 
Georges  Cuvier  the  great  naturalist.  He  has  invented  horses 
three  times  as  big  as  elephants,  dogs  as  large  as  tigers,  fishes 
capable  of  satisfying  more  people  than  Jesus  Christ's  three 
fishes,  which  the  incredulous  Voltairians  think  were  April  ones, 
and  I  a  magnificent  parable.  He  has  built  towns,  beside  which 
Rome,  Babvlon,  and  Tyre  were  but  mole-hills  ;  he  has  piled 
Babels  one  upon  the  other,  and  raised  spires  to  the  clouds  more 
infinite  than  any  of  these  in  John  Martin's  engravings  ;  he  has 
conceived  I  know  not  how  many  orders  of  architecture  and 
new  condiments ;  he  has  designed  a  theatre  which  would  ap- 
pear grand  even  to  the  Romans  of  the  Empire,  and  drawn  up 
a  bill  of  fare  which  Lucius  or  Nomentanus  might  perhaps  have 
found  sufficient  for  a  dinner  of  friends  ;  he  promises  to  create 
new  pleasures,  and  to  develop  our  organs  and  senses  ;  he  is  to 
render  women  more  beautiful  and  voluptuous,  and  men  more 
robust  and  vigorous  ;  he  guarantees  you  against  children,  and 
proposes  to  reduce  the  number  of  the  world's  inhabitants,  so 
that  everybody  may  be  at  his  ease,  which  is  more  reasonable 
than  to  urge  the  proletarians  to  produce  others  only  to 
cannonade  them  afterwards  in  the  streets  when  they  multiply 
overmuch,  and  to  send  them  bullets  instead  of  bread. 

Progress  is  possible  only  in  this  way.  All  the  rest  is  bitter 
mockery,  witless  buffoonery  that  is  not  even  good  enough  to 
dupe  gaping  idiots. 

The  phalanstery  is  truly  an  improvement  on  the  Abbey  of 
Theleme,  and  it  definitively  relegates  the  terrestrial  paradise  to 
the  number  of  completely  superannuated  and  old-fashioned 
things.  The  "Thousand  and  One  Nights,"  and  the  "Tales 
of  Madame  d'Aulnoy,"  can  alone  wrestle  successfully  with 
the  phalanstery.  What  fertility  !  What  invention  !  There  is 
sufficient  in  it  to  supply  with  the  marvellous  three  thousand 
cart  loads  of  romantic  or  classic  poems  ;  and  our  versifiers, 
Academicians  or  not,  are  very  sorry  trouvercs  if  we  compare 


36  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

them  with  Monsieur  Charles  Fourrier,  the  inventor  of  im- 
passioned attractions.  The  idea  of  making  use  of  impulses, 
which  up  to  the  present  people  have  sought  to  repress,  is 
most  assuredly  a  lofty  and  powerful  one. 

You  say  that  we  are  progressing  !  If  a  volcano  were  to  open 
its  jaws  to-morrow  at  Montmartre,  and  make  a  winding  sheet  of 
ashes  and  a  tomb  of  lava  for  Paris,  as  Vesuvius  did  formerly 
for  Stabia,  Pompeii,  and  Herculaneum,  and  if  after  some  thou- 
sands of  years  the  antiquaries  of  the  time  were  to  dig  and 
exhume  the  corpse  of  the  dead  town,  what  monument  pray 
would  still  be  standing  to  witness  to  the  splendour  of  the 
great  buried  building,  the  Gothic  Notre-Dame.  They  would 
obtain  a  fine  idea  of  our  arts  by  clearing  out  the  Tuileries  as 
touched  up  by  Monsieur  Fontaine  !  The  statues  of  the  Pont 
Louis  XV  would  have  a  fine  effect  when  transferred  to  the 
museums  of  the  day  !  And  if  there  were  not  the  pictures  of 
the  ancient  schools,  and  the  statues  of  antiquity,  or  of  the 
Renaissance  heaped  up  in  that  long,  shapeless  interior,  the 
gallery  of  the  Louvre ;  if  there  were  not  the  ceiling  by  Ingres  to 
prevent  a  belief  that  Paris  had  been  but  an  encampment  of 
barbarians,  a  village  of  Welches  or  Topinamboux,  the  things 
obtained  from  the  excavations  would  be  of  a  very  curious 
nature.  Sabres  belonging  to  the  National  Guard,  firemen's 
helmets,  and  coins  struck  with  an  unformed  stamp,  that  is 
what  they  would  find  instead  of  the  beautiful,  curiously-chased 
armour  which  the  middle  ages  have  left  beneath  their  towers 
and  ruined  tombs,  and  the  medals  which  fill  the  Etruscan  vases 
and  pave  the  foundations  of  all  the  Roman  structures.  As  to 
our  wretched  furniture  of  veneered  wood,  all  those  miserable 
boxes,  so  bare,  so  ugly,  so  insignificant,  which  are  called  chests 
of  drawers  and  writing-tables,  and  all  our  formless  and  fragile 
utensils,  I  hope  that  time  would  have  sufficient  pity  for  them 
to  destroy  them  without  leaving  a  trace  behind. 

Once  upon  a  time  we  took  a  fancy  to  build  a  grand  and 
magnificent  monument.  We  were  first  of  all  obliged  to 
borrow  the  plan  from  the  ancient  Romans  ;  and  even  before  it 
was  finished  our  Pantheon  gave  way  on  its  legs,  like  a  rickety 


PREFACE.  37 

child,  and  stumbled,  like  a  pensioner  dead  drunk,  so  that  it  was 
necessary  to  furnish  it  with  crutches  of  stone,  without  which  it 
would  have  fallen  pitifully  at  full  length  before  the  whole 
world,  and  provided  the  nations  with  food  for  laughter  for  more 
than  a  hundred  years.  We  wished  to  set  up  an  obelisk  in  one 
of  our  squares  ;  we  had  to  go  and  filch  it  from  Luxor,  and  we 
were  two  years  bringing  it  home.  Old  Egypt  bordered  her 
highways  with  obelisks,  as  we  do  ours  with  poplar  trees  ;  she 
carried  bunches  of  them  under  her  arms  as  a  kitchen-gardener 
carries  his  bundles  of  asparagus,  and  cut  out  a  monolith  in  the 
sides  of  her  mountains  of  granite  more  easily  than  we  shape  a 
tooth-pick  or  an  ear-pick.  Some  centuries  ago  they  had 
Raphael,  they  had  Michael  Angelo  ;  now  we  have  Monsieur 
Paul  Delaroche,  and  all  because  we  are  making  progress. 

You  boast  of  your  opera ;  ten  operas  such  as  yours  would 
dance  the  saraband  in  a  Roman  circus.  Monsieur  Martin 
himself,  with  his  tame  tiger  and  his  poor  lion,  gouty  and  asleep, 
like  a  subscriber  to  the  "  Gazette,"  is  something  very  wretched 
beside  an  ancient  gladiator.  What  are  your  benefit  perform- 
ances which  last  until  two  o'clock  in  the  morning,  when  we 
think  of  these  plays  which  lasted  a  hundred  days,  of  those 
representations  in  which  veritable  vessels  veritably  fought  in  a 
veritable  sea  ;  in  which  thousands  of  men  conscientiously  cut 
themselves  to  pieces  ; — turn  pale,  O  heroic  Franconi  ! — in 
which,  when  the  sea  had  retired,  there  came  the  desert,  with  its 
tigers  and  roaring  lions,  terrible  supers  who  served  only  for 
once,  in  which  the  leading  part  was  filled  by  some  robust 
Dacian  or  Pannonian  athlete  whom  it  would  often  have  been 
very  difficult  to  recall  at  the  conclusion  of  the  piece,  and  whose 
sweetheart  was  some  beautiful  and  dainty  Numidian  lioness 
that  had  been  fasting  for  three  days  ?  Does  not  the  elephant 
funambulist  appear  to  you  superior  to  Mademoiselle  Georges  ? 
Do  you  think  that  Mademoiselle  Taglioni  dances  better  than 
Arbuscula,  and  Perrot  better  than  Bathyllus  ?  I  am  persuaded 
that  Roscius  might  have  given  points  to  Bocage,  excellent 
as  the  latter  is.  Galeria  Coppiola  played  a  young  girl's  part  at 
more  than  a  hundred  years  of  age.  It  is  right  to  say  that  the 


38  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

oldest  of  our  young  ladies  is  scarcely  more  than  sixty,  and  that 
Mademoiselle  Mars  is  not  even  progressing  in  that  direction. 
They  had  two  or  three  thousand  gods  in  whom  they  believed, 
and  we  have  only  one  in  whom  we  scarcely  believe  at  all. 
It  is  progression  of  a  strange  sort.  Is  not  Jupiter  something 
more  than  Don  Juan,  and  a  very  different  kind  of  seducer? 
In  truth,  I  know  not  what  we  have  invented  or  even  improved 
upon. 

Next  to  the  progressive  journalists,  and  as  if  to  serve  as  an 
antithesis  to  them,  there  come  the  blast:  journalists,  who  are 
usually  twenty  or  two-and-twenty  years  of  age,  who  have  never 
left  their  own  neighbourhood,  and  have  as  yet  slept  only  with 
their  charwoman.  Everything  tires  them,  everything  is  too 
much  for  them,  everything  wearies  them  ;  they  are  surfeited, 
blase,  worn  out,  inaccessible.  They  know  beforehand  what 
you  are  going  to  tell  them  ;  they  have  seen,  felt,  experienced, 
heard  all  that  it  is  possible  to  see,  feel,  experience,  and  hear ; 
the  human  heart  has  no  recess  so  secret  that  they  have  not 
turned  their  lantern  upon  it.  They  tell  you  with  marvellous 
self-assurance  :  "  The  human  heart  is  not  like  that ;  women 
are  not  made  so ;  this  character  is  untrue ; "  or,  perhaps, 
"  What !  always  love  and  hate  !  always  men  and  women  !  Can- 
not people  speak  of  something  else  ?  But  man  is  worn  thread- 
bare, and  women  still  more  so,  since  Monsieur  de  Balzac  has 
concerned  himself  with  them. 

"  '  Who  will  deliver  us  from  men  and  women  ? ' 

"  You  think,  sir,  that  your  fable  is  new  ?  It  is  so  in  the  same 
way  that  the  Pont-Neuf  is;  nothing  in  the  world  is  more 
common ;  I  read  it  somewhere  or  other  when  I  was  at  nurse 
or  elsewhere ;  it  has  been  dinned  into  my  ears  for  ten  years 
past.  Moreover,  learn,  sir,  that  there  is  nothing  that  I  do  not 
know,  that  everything  is  used  up  so  far  as  I  am  concerned,  and 
that  were  your  idea  as  virginal  as  the  Virgin  Mary,  I  should 
none  the  less  affirm  that  I  had  seen  her  prostitute  herself  on 
the  roadsides  with  the  pettiest  of  scribblers  and  poorest  of 
pedants." 


PREFACE.  39 

These  journalists  have  been  the  cause  of  Jocko,  of  the 
Monstre  Vert,  the  Lyons  of  Mysore,  and  a  thousand  other  fine 
inventions. 

They  are  continually  complaining  of  being  obliged  to  read 
books,  and  see  pieces  at  the  theatre.  Apropos  of  a  paltry 
vaudeville,  they  will  talk  to  you  of  almond-trees  in  flower,  balmy 
limes,  the  breeze  of  spring,  and  the  fragrance  of  the  young 
foliage ;  they  set  up  for  lovers  of  nature  after  the  fashion  of 
young  Werther,  and  yet  have  never  set  foot  out  of  Paris,  and 
could  not  tell  a  cabbage  from  a  beet.  If  it  is  winter,  they  speak 
of  the  charms  of  the  domestic  hearth,  the  crackling  fire,  and 
irons,  slippers,  dreaming,  and  dozing ;  they  will  not  fail  to  quote 
the  famous  line  from  Tibullus, 

"  Quam  juvat  immites  ventos  audire  cubantem  :  " 

whereby  they  will  give  themselves  the  most  charming  little 
appearance  in  the  world,  at  once  disillusioned  and  ingenuous. 
They  pose  as  men  who  have  ceased  to  be  influenced  by  the 
work  of  man,  whom  dramatic  emotion  leaves  as  cold  and  hard 
as  the  knife  with  which  they  mend  their  pen,  and  who  never- 
theless cry,  like  J.  J.  Rousseau,  "  Voila  la  pervenche !  "* 
They  profess  a  fierce  antipathy  to  Gymnase  colonels,  American 
uncles,  cousins  male  and  female,  sensitive  old  growlers,  and 
romantic  widows,  and  try  to  cure  us  of  the  vaudeville  by 
proving  to  us  every  day  in  their  feuilletons  that  all  Frenchmen 
are  not  born  clever.  We  do  not,  indeed,  consider  this  a 
great  evil,  but  the  contrary,  and  we  are  delighted  to  acknow- 
ledge that  the  extinction  of  vaudeville  or  comic  opera  in  France 
(national  species)  would  be  one  of  the  greatest  blessings  from 
heaven.  But  I  should  like  to  know  what  kind  of  literature 
these  gentlemen  would  allow  to  take  its  place.  It  is  true  that 
it  could  not  be  worse. 

Others  preach  against  bad  taste,  and  translate  the  tragic 
Seneca.  Lastly,  to  bring  up  the  rear,  a  new  battalion  of  critics 
has  been  formed  of  a  kind  not  seen  before. 

*  "  Look  at  the  periwinkle  "  (the  flower),  i.e.  "  the  summer  is  coming." 
—  Translator's  Note. 


4o  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

Their  critical  formula  is  the  most  convenient,  extensible, 
malleable,  peremptory,  superlative,  and  triumphant  that  a  critic 
has  ever  conceived.  Zoilus  would  certainly  have  profited  by  it. 

Hitherto,  when  it  was  wished  to  depreciate  a  work,  or  dis- 
credit it  in  the  eyes  of  the  patriarchal  and  ingenuous  subscriber, 
false  or  perfidiously  isolated  quotations  were  made ;  phrases 
were  maimed  and  verses  mutilated  in  such  a  fashion  that  the 
author  even  would  have  thought  himself  the  most  ridiculous 
person  in  the  world ;  he  was  charged  with  imaginary  plagiarisms; 
passages  in  his  book  were  compared  with  passages  in  ancient 
and  modern  authors  with  which  they  had  not  the  least  con- 
nection ;  he  was  accused  in  kitchen  style,  and  with  many 
solecisms,  of  not  knowing  his  own  language,  and  of  perverting 
the  French  of  Racine  and  Voltaire ;  it  was  seriously  affirmed 
that  his  work  had  a  tendency  towards  anthropophagy,  and  that 
its  readers  would  infallibly  become  cannibals  or  hydrophobes 
in  the  course  of  the  week ;  but  all  this  was  poor  and  behind  the 
time,  as  brazen-faced  and  fossilised  as  possible.  The  accusa- 
tion of  immorality,  dragged  as  it  had  been  through  feuilletons 
and  "variety"  columns,  was  becoming  insufficient,  and  so  un- 
serviceable, that  scarcely  any  paper  but  the  "Constitutionnel," 
a  pure  and  progressive  one,  as  is  known,  had  the  desperate 
courage  still  to  employ  it. 

Then  was  invented  criticism  of  the  future,  prospective  criticism. 
Can  you  not  see  at  once  how  charming  it  is,  and  how  it  is  the 
product  of  a  fine  imagination?  The  recipe  is  simple,  and 
may  be  imparted  to  you.  The  book  to  be  considered  fine  and 
worthy  of  praise  is  one  that  has  not  yet  appeared.  The  book 
that  appears  is  bound  to  be  detestable.  To-morrow's  will  be 
superb — but  it  is  always  to-day.  Such  criticism  is  like  the 
barber  who  had  the  following  words  for  a  sign  written  in  large 
characters : — 

SHAVING  GRATIS  HERE  TO-MORROW. 

All  the  poor  devils  who  read  the  placard  promised  themselves 
for  the  morrow  the  unspeakable  and  sovereign  delight  of  having 
a  shave  for  once  in  their  lives  without  loosening  their  purse- 


PREFACE.  41 

strings,  and  for  joy  of  it  their  beards  grew  half-a-foot  on  their 
chins  in  the  course  of  the  night  preceding  the  lucky  day ;  but 
when  they  had  the  napkin  round  their  necks,  the  barber  asked 
them  whether  they  had  any  money,  and  requested  them  to  shell 
out,  or  he  would  treat  them  after  the  fashion  of  nutters  and 
apple -gatherers  in  Le  Perche;  and  he  swore  his  most  sacred 
oath  that  he  would  cut  their  throats  with  his  razor  if  they  did 
not  pay.  And  when  the  poor  beggars,  in  miserable  and  piti- 
ful plight,  quoted  the  placard  and  the  sacrosanct  inscription, 
the  barber  said :  "Ho,  ho!  iny  fine  fellows,  you  are  no  grept 
scholars,  and  would  do  well  to  go  back  to  school !  The  placard 
says:  'To-morrow.'  lam  not  so  simple  and  whimsical  as  to 
shave  gratis  to-day ;  my  fellow-barbers  would  say  that  I  was 
ruining  the  trade.  Come  again  next  time,  or  the  week  when 
two  Sundays  come  together,  and  you  will  find  yourselves  well 
off.  May  I  become  a  green  leper  if  I  don't  shave  you  gratis, 
on  the  word  of  an  honest  barber." 

Authors  who  read  a  prospective  article  jeering  at  an  actual 
work,  always  flatter  themselves  that  the  book  that  they  are  writing 
will  be  the  book  of  the  future.  They  try  to  comply,  as  far  as 
is  possible,  with  the  critic's  ideas,  and  become  social,  progressive, 
moralising,  palingenesical,  mythical,  pantheistical,  buchezistical, 
believing  that  they  will  thereby  escape  the  tremendous  anathema; 
but  they  fare  as  did  the  barber's  customers — to-day  is  not  the 
eve  of  to-morrow.  The  often  promised  to-morrow  will  never 
shine  upon  the  world ;  for  this  formula  is  too  convenient  to  be 
abandoned  so  soon.  While  decrying  the  book  of  which  they 
are  jealous,  and  which  they  would  fain  annihilate,  they  put  on 
the  gloves  of  the  most  generous  impartiality.  It  looks  as  though 
they  asked  nothing  better  than  to  approve  and  to  praise,  and  yet 
they  never  do  so.  This  recipe  is  far  superior  to  that  which 
might  be  called  the  retrospective,  and  which  consists  in  extolling 
only  ancient  works,  which  are  no  longer  read  and  which 
trouble  nobody,  at  the  expense  of  modern  books  which  occupy 
attention  and  wound  self-love  more  directly. 

We  said,  before  beginning  lis  review  of  the  critics,  that  the 
materials  might  furnish  fifteen  or  sixteen  folio  volumes,  but 


42  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

that  we  should  content  ourselves  with  a  few  lines.  I  am 
beginning  to  fear  that  these  few  lines  must  be  each  two  or 
three  thousand  fathoms  long,  and  resemble  those  great 
pamphlets  which  are  so  thick  that  a  gunshot  could  not  pierce 
them,  and  which  bear  the  treacherous  title — A  word  about 
the  Revolution,  a  word  about  this  or  that.  The  history  of  the 
deeds  and  jests,  and  multiple  loves  of  the  divine  Madeleine  de 
Maupin  would  run  a  serious  risk  of  being  put  off,  and  it  will 
be  understood  that  an  entire  volume  is  not  too  much  to  worthily 
sing  the  adventures  of  this  fair  Bradamant.  Hence,  wishful 
though  we  be  to  continue  the  blazonry  of  the  illustrious 
\ristarchu5es  of  the  age,  we  shall  content  ourselves  with  the 
unfinished  sketch  we  have  just  obtained,  adding  a  few  reflec- 
tions on  the  good-nature  of  our  gentle  brethren  in  Apollo,  who, 
stupid  as  the  Cassander  of  pantomime,  stand  still  to  receive 
blows  from  harlequin's  wand  and  kicks  in  the  rump  from  the 
clown,  without  stirring  any  more  than  if  they  were  images. 

It  is  as  though  a  fencing-master  should  cross  his  arms  behind 
his  back  during  a  bout,  and  receive  all  his  adversary's  thrusts 
in  his  unguarded  breast,  without  essaying  a  single  parry. 

It  is  like  a  pleading  in  which  the  king's  attorney  had  the 
sole  right  of  speech,  or  a  debate  in  which  reply  was  not 
allowed. 

The  critic  advances  this  or  that.  He  lords  it,  and  makes  a 
great  display.  Absurd,  detestable,  monstrous ;  it  is  like 
nothing  ;  it  is  like  everything.  A  drama  is  produced,  and  the 
critic  goes  to  see  it ;  he  finds  that  it  corresponds  in  no  respect 
to  the  drama  which  he  had  fabricated  in  his  head  on  the  sug- 
gestion of  the  title ;  and  so,  in  his  feuilleton,  he  substitutes 
his  own  drama  for  the  author's.  He  gives  large  doses  of 
erudition ;  he  disburdens  himself  of  all  the  knowledge  he  has 
obtained  the  day  before  in  some  library,  and  treats  like  negroes 
people  to  whom  he  should  go  to  school,  and  the  least  of  whom 
might  teach  men  more  able  than  he. 

Authors  endure  this  with  a  magnanimity  and  forbearance 
that  seems  really  inconceivable  to  me.  What,  after  all,  are 
these  critics  whose  tones  are  so  peremptory  and  words  so 


PREFACE.  43 

short,  that  one  might  take  them  for  true  sons  of  the  gods  ? 
They  are  simply  men  who  have  been  at  college  with  us,  and 
who  have  evidently  profited  less  by  their  studies  than  we,  since 
they  have  never  produced  a  work,  and  can  do  nothing  but 
bespatter  and  spoil  the  works  of  others  like  veritable 
stymphalian  vampires. 

Would  it  not  be  something  to  criticise  the  critics  ?  for  these 
fastidious  grandees,  who  make  such  an  affectation  of  being 
haughty  and  hard  to  please,  are  far  from  possessing  the  infal- 
libility of  our  Holy  Father.  There  would  be  enough  to  fill  a 
daily  paper  of  the  largest  size.  Their  blunders,  historical  or 
otherwise,  their  forged  quotations,  their  mistakes  in  French, 
their  plagiarisms,  their  dotage,  their  trite  and  ill-mannered 
pleasantries,  their  poverty  of  ideas,  their  want  of  intelligence 
and  tact,  their  ignorance  of  the  simplest  things  which  makes 
them  ready  to  take  the  Piraeus  for  a  man  and  Monsieur 
Delaroche  for  a  painter,  would  provide  authors  with  ample 
materials  for  taking  their  revenge,  without  involving  any  work 
but  that  of  underlining  the  passages  with  pencil  and  repro- 
ducing them  word  for  word ;  for  the  critic's  patent  is  not 
accompanied  by  that  of  a  great  writer,  and  mistakes  in  language 
or  taste  are  not  to  be  avoided  merely  by  reproving  such  in 
others.  The  critics  prove  this  every  day. 

If  Chateaubriand,  Lamartine,  and  others  of  the  same  kind 
were  to  criticise,  I  could  understand  people  kneeling  and  ador- 
ing ;  but  that  Messrs  Z.  K.  Y.  V.  Q.  X.,  or  some  similar  letter 
between  A  and  ft,  should  play  the  part  of  petty  Quintilians  and 
scold  you  in  the  name  of  morality  and  polite  literature,  is 
something  which  always  revolts  me,  and  makes  me  indulge  in 
unparalleled  rage.  I  would  fain  have  a  police  regulation  for- 
bidding certain  names  from  jostling  certain  others.  It  is  true 
that  a  cat  may  look  at  a  king,  and  that  Saint  Peter  of  Rome, 
giant  as  he  is,  cannot  prevent  these  Transteveronians  from 
polluting  him  in  strange  sort  below  ;  but  I  none  the  less  believe 
that  it  would  be  insane  to  write  along  monumental  reputations : 

Commit  no  nuisance  here. 


14  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

Charles  X  alone  really  understood  this  question.  By  ordering 
the  suppression  of  the  newspapers,  he  did  a  great  service  to  the 
arts  and  to  civilisation.  Newspapers  are  a  species  of  courtiers 
or  jobbers  who  interpose  between  artists  and  public,  between 
king  and  people.  We  know  what  fine  results  have  followed. 
These  perpetual  barkings  deaden  inspiration  and  fill  heart  and 
intellect  with  such  distrust,  that  we  dare  not  have  faith  either  in 
a  poet  or  government ;  and  thus  royalty  and  poetry,  the  two 
greatest  things  in  the  world,  become  impossible,  to  the  great 
misfortune  of  the  people,  who  sacrifice  their  welfare  to  the  poor 
pleasure  of  reading  every  morning  a  few  broadsheets  of  bad 
paper,  soiled  with  bad  ink  and  bad  style. 

There  was  no  art  criticism  under  Julius  II,  and  I  am  not 
acquainted  with  any  feuilieton  on  Daniel  de  Volterre,  Se- 
bastian del  Piombo,  Michael  Angelo,  or  Raphael,  nor  on 
Ghiberti  delle  Poite  or  Benvenuto  Cellini;  and  yet  I  think 
that  for  people  who  had  no  newspapers,  and  who  knew  neither 
the  word  art  nor  the  word  artistic,  they  had  for  all  that  a  fair 
amount  of  talent,  and  did  not  acquit  themselves  badly  in  their 
calling. 

The  reading  of  newspapers  prevents  the  existence  of  true 
scholars  and  true  artists.  It  is  like  a  daily  debauch  which 
makes  you  come  enervated  and  strengthless  to  the  couch  of 
the  Muses,  those  hard  and  difficult  maidens  who  require  their 
lovers  to  be  vigorous  and  quite  liresh.  The  newspaper  kills  the 
book,  as  the  book  has  killed  architecture,  and  as  artillery  has 
killed  courage  and  muscular  strength.  We  are  not  aware  of 
what  pleasures  newspapers  deprive  us.  They  rob  everything 
of  its  virginity  ;  owing  to  them  we  can  have  nothing  of  our 
own,  and  cannot  possess  a  book  all  to  ourselves ;  they  rob  you 
of  surprise  at  the  theatre,  and  ttll  you  all  the  catastrophes 
beforehand  ;  they  take  away  from  you  the  pleasure  of  tattling, 
chattering,  gossiping  and  slandering,  of  composing  a  piece  of 
news  or  hawking  a  true  one  for  a  week  through  all  the  drawing- 
rooms  of  society.  They  intone  their  ready-made  judgments 
to  us,  whether  we  want  them  or  not,  and  prepossess  us  against 
things  that  we  should  like ;  it  is  owing  to  them  that  the 


PREFACE.  45 

dealers  in  phosphorous  boxes,  if  only  they  have  a  little  memory, 
chatter  about  literature  as  nonsensically  as  country  Acade- 
micians ;  it  is  also  owing  to  them  that  all  day  long,  instead  of 
artless  ideas  or  individual  stupidity,  we  hear  half-digested 
scraps  of  newspaper  which  resemble  omelettes  raw  on  one 
side  and  burnt  on  the  other,  and  that  we  are  pitilessly  surfeited 
with  news  two  or  three  hours  old  and  already  known  to  infants 
at  the  breast ;  they  blunt  our  taste,  and  make  us  like 
those  peppered-brandy  drinkers  and  file  and  rasp  swallowers, 
who  have  ceased  to  find  any  flavour  in  the  most  generous 
wines,  and  cannot  apprehend  their  flowery  and  fragrant 
bouquet 

If  Louis-Philippe  were  to  suppress  the  literary  and  political 
journals  for  good  and  all,  I  should  be  infinitely  grateful  to  him, 
and  would  rhyme  him  on  the  spot  a  fine  disordered  dithyramb 
with  bold  verses  and  cross  rhymes,  signed :  "  Your  very 
humble  and  very  faithful  subject,  &c."  Let  it  not  be  imagined 
that  literature  would  no  longer  engage  attention ;  at  a  time 
when  there  were  no  newspapers,  a  quatrain  used  to  occupy  all 
Paris  for  a  week  and  a  first  performance  for  six  months. 

It  is  true  that  we  should  lose  the  advertisements  and  the 
eulogies  at  fifteen-pence  a  line,  and  notoriety  would  be  less 
prompt  and  less  startling.  But  I  have  devised  a  very  ingenious 
method  for  replacing  the  advertisements.  If  my  gracious 
monarch  suppresses  the  journals  between  the  present  time  and 
the  publication  of  this  glorious  romance,  I  shall  certainly  make 
use  of  it,  and  I  promise  myself  wonders  from  it.  The  great 
day  being  come,  twenty-four  criers  on  horseback,  and  in  the 
publisher's  livery,  with  his  address  on  their  backs  and  breasts, 
carrying  in  their  hands  banners  embroidered  on  both  sides 
with  the  title  of  the  romance,  and  each  preceded  by  a  drummer 
and  a  kettle-drummer,  will  traverse  the  town,  and,  stopping 
in  the  squares  and  at  the  cross-ways,  cry  in  a  loud  and 
intelligible  voice  :  "  To-day,  and  not  yesterday,  nor  to-morrow, 
is  published  the  admirable,  inimitable,  divine,  and  more  than 
divine  romance,  'Mademoiselle  de  Maupin,'  by  the  very 
celebrated  The"ophile  Gautier,  which  Europe,  and  even  the 


46  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

other  parts  of  the  world  and  Polynesia,  have  been  expecting 
so  impatiently  for  a  year  and  more.  It  is  being  sold  at  the 
rate  of  five  hundred  copies  a  minute,  and  the  editions  are 
following  one  another  every  half  hour ;  the  nineteenth  has  been 
reached  already.  A  picket  of  municipal  guards  is  before  the 
door  of  the  shop,  restraining  the  crowd  arid  preventing  all 
disorder." 

Surely  this  would  be  quite  equal  to  a  three-lined  advertise- 
ment in  the  "  De"bats "  or  the  "  Courrier  Fran9ais,"  among 
elastic  belts,  crinolined  collars,  feeding-bottles  with  indestruc- 
tible tents,  Regnault's  jujubes,  and  cures  for  toothache. 


May 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 


I. 


l  complain,  my  dear  friend,  of  the  scarcity 
of  my  letters.  What  would  you  have  me 
write,  except  that  I  am  well,  and  that  I 
have  ever  the  same  affection  for  you? 
These  are  things  of  which  you  are  quite 
aware,  and  which  are  so  natural,  consider - 
ing  my  age,  and  the  excellent  qualities  to 
be  discerned  in  you,  that  it  is  almost  ridiculous  to  send  a 
wretched  sheet  of  paper  on  a  journey  of  a  hundred  miles  with 
no  more  information  than  that.  All  my  seeking  is  in  vain,  I 
have  no  news  worth  relating ;  my  life  is  the  most  uniform  in 
the  world,  and  nothing  comes  to  disturb  its  monotony.  To-day 
is  followed  by  to-morrow,  just  as  yesterday  was  followed  by 
to-day ;  and,  without  being  so  conceited  as  to  play  the  prophet, 
I  can  in  the  morning  boldly  predict  what  will  befall  me  in  the 
evening. 

"  Here  is  the  plan  of  my  day  :  I  get  up — that  is  of  course, 
and  is  the  beginning  of  every  day  ;  I  breakfast,  fence,  go  out, 
come  in  again,  dine,  pay  visits  or  read  something,  and  then 
I  go  to  bed,  just  as  I  did  the  day  before ;  I  fall  asleep,  and 
my  imagination,  not  having  been  excited  by  new  objects, 
affords  me  but  trite  and  hackneyed  dreams  as  monotonous 
as  my  real  life.  This  is  not  very  diverting,  as  you  see.  Never 


48  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

theless,  I  am  better  pleased  with  such  an  existence  than  I 
should  have  been  six  months  ago.  I  am  dull,  it  is  true,  but 
it  is  in  a  peaceful  and  resigned  fashion,  not  devoid  of  a  certain 
sweetness,  which  I  should  be  ready  enough  to  compare  to 
those  wan  and  tepid  autumn  days  in  which  we  find  a  secret 
charm  after  the  excessive  heat  of  summer. 

"  Although  I  have  apparently  accepted  this  kind  of  exist- 
ence, it  is  nevertheless  scarcely  suitable  for  me,  or  at  least  it 
has  very  little  resemblance  to  that  of  which  I  dream,  and 
to  which  I  consider  myself  adapted.  It  may  be  that  I  am 
mistaken,  and  that  I  really  am  suited  only  to  this  mode  of 
life ;  but  I  can  scarcely  believe  it,  for  if  this  were  my  true 
destiny,  I  should  have  fitted  myself  into  it  with  greater  ease, 
and  should  not  have  been  bruised  by  the  sharp  corners  of  it 
at  so  many  places  and  so  painfully. 

"You  know  what  an  overpowering  attraction  strange  ad- 
ventures have  for  me,  how  I  worship  everything  that  is  singular, 
extravagant,  and  perilous,  and  how  greedily  I  devour  novels 
and  books  of  travels.  There  is  not,  perhaps,  on  earth  a  fancy 
more  foolish  or  more  vagrant  than  mine.  Well,  through  some 
fatality  or  other,  it  so  happens  that  I  have  never  had  an 
adventure  and  have  never  made  a  journey.  So  far  as  I  am 
concerned,  the  circuit  of  the  world  is  the  circuit  of  the  town 
in  which  I  live ;  I  touch  my  horizon  on  all  sides ;  I  rub 
shoulders  with  the  real ;  my  life  is  that  of  the  shell  on  the  sand- 
bank, of  the  ivy  round  the  tree,  of  the  cricket  on  the  hearth  ; 
in  truth,  I  am  surprised  that  my  feet  have  not  yet  taken  root 

"  Love  is  painted  with  bandaged  eyes ;  but  it  is  destiny  that 
should  be  depicted  thus. 

"  I  have  as  valet  a  species  of  clown,  heavy  and  stupid  enough, 
who  has  roved  as  much  as  the  north  wind,  who  has  been  to  the 
devil,  and  I  know  not  where  besides,  who  has  seen  with  his 
own  eyes  all  those  things  about  which  I  have  formed  such 
fine  ideas,  and  who  cares  as  much  for  them  as  he  does  for  a 
glass  of  water ;  he  has  been  placed  in  the  strangest  situations, 
and  he  has  had  the  most  astonishing  adventures  that  one  could 
have.  I  make  him  talk  sometimes,  and  am  maddened  to  think 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  49 

that  all  these  glorious  things  have  befallen  a  booby,  wno  is 
capable  of  neither  feeling  nor  reflection,  and  who  is  good  for 
nothing  but  his  usual  work, — brushing  clothes  and  cleaning 
boots. 

"  It  is  clear  that  this  rascal's  life  ought  to  have  been  mine. 
As  for  him,  he  thinks  me  very  fortunate,  and  is  lost  in  wonder 
to  see  me  melancholy,  as  I  am. 

"All  this  is  not  very  interesting,  my  poor  friend,  and  is 
scarcely  worth  the  trouble  of  writing,  is  it?  But  since  you 
insist  on  my  writing  to  you,  I  must  relate  my  thoughts  and 
feelings,  and  give  you  the  history  of  my  ideas,  in  default  of 
events  and  actions.  There  will,  perhaps,  be  little  order  and 
little  novelty  in  what  I  shall  have  to  tell  you,  but  you  must  lay 
the  blame  on  yourself  alone.  I  shall  be  obeying  your  own  wish. 

"  You  have  been  my  friend  from  childhood,  and  I  was 
brought  up  with  you ;  our  lives  were  passed  together  for  a 
long  time,  and  we  are  wont  to  tell  each  other  our  most  secret 
thoughts.  I  can  therefore,  without  blushing,  give  you  an 
account  of  all  the  nonsense  that  passes  through  my  idle 
brain.  I  shall  neither  add,  nor  deduct  a  single  word,  for  I 
have  no  false  pride  with  you.  And  so  I  shall  be  scrupulously 
exact,  even  in  trifling  and  shameful  matters  ;  I  shall  certainly 
not  veil  myself  before  you. 

"  Beneath  this  winding  sheet  of  indifferent  and  depressing 
languor  of  which  I  have  just  told  you,  there  sometimes  stirs  a 
thought,  torpid  rather  than  dead,  and  I  do  not  always  possess 
the  sweet,  sad  calm  that  melancholy  gives.  I  have  relapses, 
and  I  fall  again  into  my  old  perturbations.  Nothing  in  the 
world  is  so  fatiguing  as  these  purposeless  whirlwinds  and  these 
aimless  flights.  On  such  days,  although  I  have  nothing  to  do 
any  more  than  on  others,  I  rise  very  early,  before  the  sun,  so 
persuaded  am  I  that  I  am  in  a  hurry,  and  that  I  shall  not  have 
the  necessary  time.  I  dress  myself  with  all  speed,  as  if  the 
house  were  on  fire,  putting  on  my  garments  at  random,  and 
bewailing  the  loss  of  a  minute.  Any  one  seeing  me  would 
suppose  that  I  was  going  to  keep  a  love  appointment  or  look  for 
money.  Not  at  all.  I  even  do  not  know  whither  I  am  going; 


50  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

but  go  I  must,  and  I  should  believe  my  safety  compromised  it 
I  remained.  It  seems  to  me  that  I  am  called  from  without, 
that  my  destiny  is  at  that  moment  passing  in  the  street,  and 
that  the  question  of  my  life  is  about  to  be  decided. 

"  I  go  down  with  an  air  of  wild  surprise,  my  dress  in 
disorder,  and  my  hair  uncombed.  People  turn  and  laugh 
when  they  meet  me,  and  think  that  I  am  a  young  debauchee, 
who  has  spent  the  night  at  the  tavern  or  elsewhere.  Indeed 
I  am  intoxicated,  though  I  have  drunk  nothing,  and  I  have 
the  manner  of  a  drunkard,  even  to  his  uncertain  gait,  now  fast 
and  now  slow.  I  go  from  street  to  street,  like  a  dog  that  has 
lost  his  master,  seeking  quite  at  a  venture,  very  troubled,  very 
much  on  the  alert,  turning  at  the  least  noise,  gliding  into  every 
group,  heedless  of  the  rebukes  of  the  people  I  run  up  against, 
and  looking  about  me  everywhere,  with  a  clearness  of  vision 
which  at  other  times  I  do  not  possess.  Then  it  suddenly 
becomes  evident  to  me  that  I  am  mistaken,  that  it  is  assuredly 
not  there,  that  I  must  go  further,  to  the  other  end  of  the  town, 
I  know  not  where,  and  I  set  off  as  if  the  devil  were  carrying 
me  away.  My  toes  only  touch  the  ground,  and  I  do  not  weigh 
an  ounce.  Truly  I  must  present  a  singular  appearance  with  my 
preoccupied  and  frenzied  countenance,  the  gesticulations  of  my 
arms  and  the  inarticulate  cries  I  utter.  When  I  think  of  it  in 
cold  blood,  I  laugh  heartily  in  my  own  face  ;  but  this,  I  would 
have  you  know,  does  not  prevent  me  from  doing  just  the  same 
on  the  next  occasion. 

"  If  I  were  asked  why  I  rush  along  in  this  way,  I  certainly 
should  be  greatly  at  a  loss  for  an  answer.  I  am  in  no  haste 
to  arrive,  since  I  am  going  nowhere.  I  am  not  afraid  of 
being  late,  since  I  have  no  engagement.  There  is  no  one 
waiting  for  me,  and  I  have  no  reason  for  being  in  a  hurry 
here. 

"  Is  it  an  opportunity  for  loving,  an  adventure,  a  woman, 
an  idea  or  a  fortune,  something  which  is  wanting  to  my  life, 
and  which  I  seek  without  accounting  to  myself  for  it,  but 
impelled  by  a  vague  instinct  ?  Is  it  my  existence  which  desires 
to  complete  itself?  Is  it  the  wish  to  emerge  from  my  home 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  51 

and  from  myself,  the  weariness  of  my  present  life  and  the 
longing  for  another  ?  It  is  something  of  this,  and  perhaps  all  of 
this  put  together.  It  is  always  a  very  unpleasant  condition,  a 
feverish  irritation,  which  is  usually  succeeded  by  the  dullest 
atony. 

"  I  often  have  an  idea,  that  if  I  had  set  out  an  hour  earlier, 
or  had  increased  my  pace,  I  should  have  arrived  in  time ; 
that,  while  I  was  passing  down  one  street,  the  object  of  my 
search  was  passing  down  the  other,  and  that  a  block  of  vehicles 
was  sufficient  to  make  me  miss  what  I  have  been  pursuing 
quite  at  random  for  so  long.  You  cannot  imagine  the  sadness 
and  the  deep  despair  into  which  I  fall  when  I  see  that  all  this 
ends  in  nothing,  and  that  my  youth  is  passing  away  with  no 
prospect  opening  up  before  me;  then  all  my  idle  passions 
growl  dully  in  my  heart,  and  prey  upon  themselves  for  lack  of 
other  food,  like  beasts  in  a  menagerie  that  the  keeper  has 
forgotten  to  feed. 

"  In  spite  of  the  stifled  and  secret  disappointments  of  every 
day,  there  is  something  within  me  which  resists  and  will  not 
die.  I  have  no  hope,  for  hope  implies  desire,  a  certain  dis- 
position for  wishing  that  things  should  turn  out  in  one  way 
rather  than  in  another.  I  desire  nothing,  for  I  desire  every- 
thing. I  do  not  hope,  or  rather  I  hope  no  longer  ; — that  is  too 
silly, — and  it  is  quite  the  same  to  me  whether  a  thing  happens 
or  not  I  am  waiting,  and  for  what  ?  I  do  not  know,  but  I 
am  waiting. 

"  It  is  a  tremulous  waiting,  full  of  impatience,  broken  by 
starts  and  nervous  movements,  as  must  be  that  of  a  lover  who 
awaits  his  mistress.  Nothing  comes ;  I  grow  furious,  or  begin 
to  weep.  I  wait  for  the  heavens  to  open  and  an  angel  to 
descend  with  a  revelation  to  me,  for  a  revolution  to  break 
out  and  a  throne  to  be  given  me,  for  one  of  Raphael's  virgins 
to  leave  the  canvas  and  come  to  embrace  me,  for  relations, 
whom  I  do  not  possess,  to  die  and  leave  me  what  will  enable 
me  to  sail  my  fancy  on  a  river  of  gold,  for  a  hippogriff  to  take 
me  and  carry  me  into  regions  unknown.  But,  whatever  I  am 
waiting  for,  it  is  assuredly  nothing  usual  and  commonplace-. 

LIBRARY 
UNIVERSITY  OF 


52  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

"  This  has  reached  such  a  pitch,  that,  when  I  come  in,  I 
never  fail  to  say  :  '  No  one  has  come  ?  There  is  no  letter  for 
me  ?  No  news  ? '  I  know  perfectly  well  that  there  is  nothing, 
and  that  there  can  be  nothing.  It  is  all  the  same  ;  I  am  always 
greatly  surprised  and  disappointed  on  receiving  the  customary 
reply :  '  No,  sir,  nothing  at  all.' 

"Sometimes — but  this  is  seldom — the  idea  takes  a  more 
definite  form.  It  will  be  some  beautiful  woman  whom  I  do 
not  know,  and  who  does  not  know  me,  whom  I  have  met 
at  the  theatre  or  at  church,  and  who  has  not  heeded  me 
in  the  least.  I  go  over  the  whole  house,  and  until  I  have 
opened  the  door  of  the  last  room — I  scarcely  dare  tell  you,  it 
is  so  foolish — I  hope  that  she  has  come,  and  that  she  is  there. 
This  is  not  conceit  on  my  part.  I  have  so  little  of  the  coxcomb 
about  me,  that  several  women,  whom  I  believed  very  indifferent 
to  me,  and  without  any  opinion  in  particular  respecting  me, 
have,  so  others  tell  me,  been  greatly  prepossessed  in  my  favour. 
It  has  a  different  origin. 

"  When  I  am  not  dulled  by  weariness  and  discouragement, 
my  soul  awakes  and  recovers  all  its  former  vigour.  I  hope, 
I  love,  I  desire,  and  so  violent  are  my  desires,  that  I  imagine 
that  they  will  draw  everything  to  them,  as  a  powerful  magnet 
attracts  particles  of  iron,  even  when  they  are  at  a  great  distance 
from  it.  This  is  why  I  wait  for  the  things  I  wish  for,  instead 
of  going  to  them,  and  frequently  neglect  the  most  favourable 
opportunities  that  are  opened  up  to  my  hopes.  Another  would 
write  the  most  amorous  note  in  the  world  to  the  divinity  of 
his  heart,  or  would  seek  for  an  opportunity  to  approach  her. 
As  for  me,  I  ask  the  messenger  for  the  reply  to  a  letter  which 
I  have  not  written,  and  spend  my  time  constructing  the  most 
wonderful  situations  in  my  head  for  bringing  me  in  the  most 
favourable  and  most  unexpected  light  under  the  notice  of 
her  whom  I  love.  A  book  might  be  made  larger  and  more 
ingenious  than  the  'Stratagems  of  Polybius'  of  all  the  stratagems 
which  I  imagine  for  introducing  myself  to  her  and  revealing 
my  passion.  Generally,  it  would  only  be  necessary  to  say  to 
one  of  my  friends  :  '  Introduce  me  to  Madame  So-and-so,' 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  53 

and  to  pay  a  compliment  drawn  from  mythology  and  suitably 
punctuated  with  sighs. 

"  To  listen  to  all  this,  one  would  think  me  fit  for  a  mad- 
house; nevertheless,  I  am  a  rational  fellow  enough,  and  I 
have  not  put  many  of  my  follies  into  practice.  All  this  passes 
in  the  recesses  of  my  soul,  and  all  these  absurd  ideas  are 
buried  very  carefully  deep  within  me ;  on  the  outside  nothing 
is  to  be  seen,  and  I  have  the  reputation  of  being  a  placid  and 
cold  young  man,  indifferent  to  women,  and  without  interest  in 
things  belonging  to  his  years ;  which  is  as  remote  from  the 
truth  as  the  judgments  of  the  world  usually  are. 

"  Nevertheless,  in  spite  of  all  my  discouragements,  some  of 
my  desires  have  been  realised,  and,  so  little  joy  has  been  given 
me  by  their  fulfilment,  that  I  dread  the  fulfilment  of  the  rest. 
You  remember  the  childish  eagerness  with  which  I  longed  to 
have  a  horse  of  my  own  ;  my  mother  has  given  me  one  quite 
recently ;  he  is  as  black  as  ebony,  with  a  little  white  star  on 
his  forehead,  with  flowing  mane,  glossy  coat,  and  slender  legs, 
just  as  I  wished  him  to  be.  When  they  brought  him  to  me, 
it  gave  me  such  a  shock,  that  I  remained  quite  a  quarter  of 
an  hour  very  pale  and  unable  to  compose  myself.  Then  I 
mounted,  and,  without  speaking  a  single  word,  set  off  at  full 
gallop,  and  for  more  than  an  hour  went  straight  across  country 
in  an  ecstasy  difficult  to  conceive.  I  did  the  same  every  day 
for  a  week,  and  I  really  do  not  know  how  it  was  that  I  did  not 
kill  him  or  at  least  break  his  wind.  By  degrees  all  this  great 
eagerness  died  away,  I  brought  my  horse  to  a  trot,  then  to  a 
walk,  and  now  I  have  come  to  ride  him  with  such  indifference, 
that  he  often  stops  and  I  do  not  notice  it.  Pleasure  has 
become  habit  more  quickly  than  I  could  have  thought  possible. 

"  As  to  Ferragus — that  is  the  name  I  have  given  him — he  is 
really  the  most  charming  animal  that  one  could  see.  He  has 
tufts  on  his  feet  like  eagle's  down ;  he  is  as  lively  as  a  goat 
and  as  quiet  as  a  lamb.  You  will  have  the  greatest  pleasure 
in  galloping  him  when  you  come  here ;  and,  although  my 
mania  for  riding  has  passed  away,  I  am  still  very  fond  of  him, 
for  he  is  a  horse  of  an  excellent  disposition,  and  I  sincerely  prefer 


54  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

him  to  many  human  beings.  If  you  only  heard  how  joyfully 
he  neighs  when  I  go  to  see  him  in  the  stable,  and  with  what 
intelligent  eyes  he  looks  at  me  !  I  confess  that  I  am  touched 
by  these  tokens  of  affection,  and  that  I  take  him  by  the  neck 
and  embrace  him  with  as  much  tenderness,  on  my  word,  as  if 
he  were  a  beautiful  girl. 

"  I  had  also  another  desire,  more  keen,  more  eager,  more 
continually  awake,  more  dearly  cherished,  and  for  which  I 
had  built  in  my  soul  an  enchanting  castle  of  cards,  a  palace 
of  chimeras,  that  was  often  destroyed  but  raised  again  with 
desperate  constancy :  it  was  to  have  a  mistress — a  mistress 
quite  my  own — like  the  horse.  I  do  not  know  whether  the 
fulfilment  of  this  dream  would  have  found  me  so  soon  cold 
as  the  fulfilment  of  the  other  ;  I  doubt  it.  But  perhaps  I  am 
wrong,  and  shall  be  tired  of  it  as  soon.  Owing  to  my  peculiar 
disposition,  I  desire  a  thing  so  frantically,  without,  however, 
making  any  effort  to  procure  it,  that  if  by  chance,  or  otherwise, 
I  attain  the  object  of  my  wish,  I  have  such  a  moral  lumbago, 
and  am  so  worn  out,  that  I  am  seized  with  swoonings,  and 
have  not  energy  enough  left  to  enjoy  it :  hence  things  which 
come  to  me  without  my  wishing  for  them  generally  give 
me  more  pleasure  than  those  which  I  have  coveted  most 
strongly. 

"  I  am  twenty-two  years  old,  and  I  am  not  virgin.  Alas  !  no 
one  is  so  now  at  that  age,  either  in  body,  or,  what  is  much 
worse  in  heart.  Besides,  consorting  with  the  class  of  females 
who  afford  us  pleasure  for  payment,  and  are  not  to  be  counted 
any  more  than  a  lascivious  dream,  I  have  gained  over  several 
^irtuous  or  nearly  virtuous  women,  neither  beautiful  nor  ugly, 
riefther  young  nor  old,  such  as  are  to  be  met  with  by  young 
fellows  who  have  nothing  regular  on  hand  and  whose  hearts 
are  unoccupied.  With  a  little  good-will,  and  a  pretty  strong 
dose  of  romantic  illusions,  you  can  call  this  having  a  mistress, 
if  you  like.  For  myself,  I  find  it  impossible  ;  I  might  have  a 
thousand  of  the  kind,  and  I  should  still  believe  my  desire  as 
unfulfilled  as  ever. 

' '  I  have  not,  therefore,  as  yet  had  a  mistress,  and  my  whole 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  55 

desire  is  to  have  one.  It  is  an  idea  that  torments  me  strangely; 
it  is  not  an  effervescence  of  temperament,  a  boiling  of  the  blood, 
the  first  burst  of  puberty.  It  is  not  -woman  that  I  want,  but  a 
woman,  a  mistress ;  I  desire  one,  and  shall  have  one  shortly ; 
if  I  did  not  succeed,  I  confess  to  you  that  I  should  never  get  over 
it,  and  that  I  should  have  an  inward  timidity,  a  dull  discourage- 
ment which  would  exercise  a  serious  influence  upon  the  rest  of 
my  life.  I  should  consider  myself  defective  in  certain  respects, 
inharmonious  or  incomplete,  deformed  in  mind  or  body  ;  for 
after  all  my  requirement  is  a  just  one,  and  nature  owes  it  to 
every  man.  So  long  as  I  have  not  attained  my  end,  I  shall 
look  upon  myself  merely  as  a  child,  and  I  shall  not  have  the 
confidence  in  myself  which  I  ought  to  have.  A  mistress  is  to 
me  what  the  toga  virilis  was  to  the  young  Roman. 

"  I  see  so  many  beautiful  women  in  the  possession  of  men 
who  are  ignoble  in  every  respect,  and  scarcely  fit  to  be  their 
lackeys,  that  I  blush  for  them,  and  for  myself.  It  gives  me  a 
pitiful  opinion  of  women  to  see  them  wasting  their  affection  on 
blackguards  who  despise  and  deceive  them,  instead  of  giving 
themselves  to  some  loyal  and  sincere  young  fellow  who  would 
esteem  himself  very  fortunate,  and  would  worship  them  on  his 
knees  ;  to  myself,  for  instance.  It  is  true  that  men  of  the 
former  species  obstruct  the  drawing-rooms,  show  themselves 
off  before  every  one,  and  are  always  lounging  on  the  back 
of  some  easy  chair,  while  I  remain  at  home,  my  forehead 
pressed  against  the  window  pane,  watching  the  river  steam 
and  the  mist  rise,  while  silently  erecting  in  my  heart  the 
perfumed  sanctuary,  the  marvellous  temple  in  which  I  am  to 
lodge  the  future  idol  of  my  soul.  A  chaste  and  poetical 
occupation,  and  one  for  which  women  are  as  little  grateful  to 
you  as  may  be. 

"  Women  have  little  liking  for  dreamers,  and  peculiarly 
esteem  those  who  put  their  ideas  into  practice.  After  all,  they 
are  right  Obliged  by  their  education  and  their  social  position  to 
keep  silence  and  to  wait,  they  naturally  prefer  those  who  come 
to  them  and  speak,  and  thus  relieve  them  from  a  false  and 
tiresome  position.  I  am  quite  sensible  of  this ;  yet  never  in 


$6  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

my  life  shall  I  be  able  to  take  it  upon  me,  as  I  see  many 
others  do,  to  rise  from  my  seat,  cross  a  drawing-room,  and 
say  unexpectedly  to  a  woman :  '  Your  dress  becomes  you 
like  an  angel,'  or :  '  Your  eyes  are  particularly  bright  this 
evening.' 

"  All  this  does  not  prevent  me  from  positively  wanting  a 
mistress.  I  do  not  know  who  it  will  be,  but  I  see  none 
among  the  women  of  my  acquaintance  who  could  suitably  fill 
this  dignified  position.  I  find  that  they  possess  very  few  of  the 
qualities  I  require.  Those  who  would  be  young  enough  are 
wanting  in  beauty  or  intellectual  charm;  those  who  are  beautiful 
and  young  are  basely  and  forbiddingly  virtuous,  or  lack  the 
necessary  freedom  ;  and  then  there  is  always  some  husband, 
some  brother,  a  mother  or  an  aunt,  somebody  or  other,  with 
big  eyes  and  large  ears,  who  must  be  wheedled  or  thrown  out 
of  the  window.  Every  rose  has  its  worm,  and  every  woman  has 
a  swarm  of  relations  who  must  be  carefully  cleared  away,  if  we 
wish  to  pluck  some  day  the  fruit  of  her  beauty.  There  is  not 
one  of  them,  even  to  country  cousins  of  the  third  degree  whom 
we  have  never  seen,  that  does  not  wish  to  preserve  the  spotless 
purity  of  their  dear  cousin  in  all  its  whiteness.  This  is 
nauseous,  and  I  shall  never  have  the  patience  to  pull  up  all 
the  weeds,  and  lop  away  all  the  briars  which  fatally  obstruct 
the  approaches  to  a  pretty  woman. 

"  I  am  not  fond  of  mammas,  and  I  like  young  girls  still  less. 
Further,  I  must  confess  that  married  women  have  but  a  very 
slight  attraction  for  me.  They  involve  a  confusion  and  a 
mingling  which  are  revolting  to  me  ;  I  cannot  tolerate  the  idea 
of  division.  The  woman  who  has  a  husband  and  a  lover  is  a 
prostitute  for  one  of  them,  and  often  for  both  ;  and,  besides,  I 
could  never  consent  to  yield  the  first  place  to  another.  My 
natural  pride  cannot  stoop  to  such  a  degradation.  I  shall 
never  go  because  another  man  is  coming.  Though  the  woman 
were  to  be  compromised  and  losi,  and  we  were  to  fight  with 
knives  each  with  a  foot  upon  her  body,  I  should  remain. 
Private  staircases,  cupboards,  closets,  and  all  the  machinery  for 
deception  would  be  of  little  service  with  me. 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  57 

"  I  am  not  much  smitten  with  what  is  called  maidenly  in- 
genuousness, youthful  innocence,  purity  of  heart,  and  other 
charming  things  which  in  verse  are  most  effective ;  that  I  call 
simply  nonsense,  ignorance,  imbecility,  or  hypocrisy.  The 
maidenly  ingenuousness  which  consists  in  sitting  on  the  very 
edge  of  an  easy  chair,  with  arms  pressed  close  to  the  body,  and 
eyes  fixed  on  the  point  of  the  corset,  and  in  .not  speaking 
without  permission  from  its  grand-parents,  the  innocence  which 
has  a  monopoly  of  uncurled  hair  and  white  frocks,  the  purity  of 
heart  which  wears  its  dress  high  up  at  the  neck  because  it  has 
as  yet  neither  shoulders  nor  breast  to  show,  do  not,  in  truth, 
appear  wonderfully  agreeable  to  me. 

"  I  do  not  care  much  for  teaching  little  simpletons  to  spell 
out  the  alphabet  of  love.  I  am  neither  old  enough  nor 
depraved  enough  for  that ;  besides,  I  should  succeed  badly 
at  it,  for  I  never  could  show  anybody  anything,  even  what  I 
knew  best  myself.  I  prefer  women  who  read  fluently,  we 
arrive  sooner  at  the  end  of  the  chapter ;  and  in  everything, 
but  especially  in  love,  the  end  is  what  we  have  to  consider. 
In  this  respect,  I  am  rather  like  those  people  who  begin  a 
novel  at  the  wrong  end,  read  the  catastrophe  first  of  all,  and 
then  go  backwards  to  the  first  page.  This  mode  of  reading 
and  loving  has  its  charm.  Details  are  relished  more  when  we 
are  at  peace  concerning  the  end,  and  the  inversion  introduces 
the  unforeseen. 

"  Young  girls  then,  and  married  women  are  excluded  from 
the  category.  It  must,  therefore,  be  among  the  widows  that 
we  are  to  choose  our  divinity.  Alas !  though  nothing  else  is 
left  to  us,  I  greatly  fear  that  neither  will  they  afford  us  what 
\ve  wish. 

"  If  I  happened  to  love  a  pale  narcissus  bathed  in  a 
tepid  dew  of  tears,  and  bending  with  melancholy  grace  over 
the  new  marble  tomb  of  some  happily  and  recently  departed 
husband,  I  should  certainly,  and  in  a  very  short  while,  be  as 
miserable  as  was  the  defunct  during  his  lifetime.  Widows, 
however  young  and  charming  they  may  be,  have  a  terrible 
drawback  which  other  women  are  without ;  if  you  are  not  on 

D 


58  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

the  very  best  terms  with  them,  and  a  cloud  passes  across  the 
heaven  of  your  love,  they  tell  you  at  once  with  a  little  superlative 
and  contemptuous  air — 

"  '  Ah  !  how  strange  you  are  to-day  !  It  is  just  like  what  ht 
was.  When  we  quarrelled,  he  used  to  speak  to  me  in  the  very 
same  way  ;  it  is  curious,  but  you  have  the  same  tone  of  voice 
and  the  same  look ;  when  you  are  out  of  temper,  you  cannot 
imagine  how  like  my  husband  you  are  ;  it  is  frightful.' 

"  It  is  pleasant  to  have  things  of  this  sort  said  to  your  very 
face  !  There  are  some  even  who  are  impudent  enough  to 
praise  the  departed  one  like  an  epitaph,  and  to  extol  his  heart 
and  his  leg  at  the  expense  of  your  leg  and  your  heart.  With 
women  who  have  only  one  or  more  lovers,  you  have  at  least 
the  unspeakable  advantage  of  never  hearing  about  your  prede- 
cessor, and  this  is  a  consideration  of  no  ordinary  interest. 
Women  have  too  great  a  regard  for  what  is  appropriate  and 
legitimate  not  to  observe  a  diligent  silence  in  such  an  event, 
and  all  matters  of  the  kind  are  consigned  to  oblivion  as  soon 
as  possible.  It  is  an  understood  thing  that  a  man  is  always  a 
woman's  first  lover. 

"  I  do  not  think  that  an  aversion  so  well  founded  admits  of 
any  serious  reply.  It  is  not  that  I  consider  widows  altogether 
devoid  of  charm,  when  they  are  young  and  pretty  and  have 
not  yet  laid  aside  their  mourning.  They  have  little  languishing 
airs,  little  ways  of  letting  the  arms  droop,  of  arching  the  neck 
and  of  bridling  up  like  unmated  turtle-doves  ;  a  heap  of 
charming  affectations  sweetly  veiled  beneath  the  transparency 
of  crape,  a  v;ell-ordered  affectation  of  despair,  skilfully  managed 
sighs,  and  tears  which  fall  so  opportunely  and  lend  such  lustre 
to  the  eyes  ! 

"  Truly,  next  to  wine — perhaps  even  before  it — the  liquid  I 
love  best  to  drink  is  a  beautiful  tear,  clear  and  limpid,  trembling 
at  the  tip  of  a  dark  or  a  blonde  eye-lash.  What  means  are 
there  of  resisting  that  ?  We  do  not  resist  it ;  and  then  black 
is  so  becoming  to  women  !  A  white  skin,  poetry  apart,  turns 
to  ivory,  snow,  milk,  alabaster,  to  everything  spotless  that  there  is 
in  the  world  for  the  use  of  composers  of  madrigals ;  while  a  dark 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  59 

skin  has  but  a  dash  of  brown  that  is  full  of  vivacity  and 
fire. 

"  Mourning  is  a  happy  opportunity  for  a  woman,  and  the 
reason  I  shall  never  marry,  is  the  fear  lest  my  wife  should  get 
rid  of  me  in  order  to  go  into  mourning  for  me.  There  are, 
however,  some  women  who  cannot  turn  their  sorrow  to  account, 
and  who  weep  in  such  a  way  that  they  make  their  noses  red, 
and  distort  their  features  like  the  faces  that  we  see  on  fountains  ; 
this  is  a  serious  danger.  There  is  need  of  many  charms  and 
much  art  to  weep  agreeably  ;  otherwise,  there  is  a  risk  of  not 
being  comforted  for  a  long  time.  Yet  notwithstanding  the 
pleasure  of  making  some  Artemisia  faithless  to  the  shade  of 
her  Mausolus,  I  cannot  really  choose  from  among  this  swarm 
of  lamenting  ones  her  whose  heart  I  shall  ask  in  exchange  for 
my  own. 

"  And  now  I  hear  you  say  :  Whom  will  you  take  then  ? 
You  will  not  have  young  girls,  nor  married  women,  nor  widows. 
You  do  not  like  mammas,  and  I  do  not  suppose  that  you  are 
any  fonder  of  grandmothers.  Whom  the  deuce  do  you  like  ? 
It  is  the  answer  to  the  charade,  and  if  I  knew  it,  I  should  not 
torment  myself  so  much.  Up  to  the  present,  I  have  never  loved 
any  woman,  but  I  have  loved  and  do  love — love.  Although  I 
have  had  no  mistresses,  and  the  women  that  I  have  had  have 
merely  kindled  desire,  I  have  felt,  and  I  am  acquainted  with 
love  itself.  I  have  not  loved  this  woman  or  that,  one  more 
than  another,  but  some  one  whom  I  have  never  seen,  who 
must  live  somewhere,  and  whom  I  shall  find,  if  it  please  God. 
I  know  well  what  she  is  like,  and,  when  I  meet  her,  I  shall 
recognise  her. 

"  I  have  often  pictured  to  myself  the  place  where  she  dwells, 
the  dress  that  she  wears,  the  eyes  and  hair  that  she  has.  I 
hear  her  voice  ;  I  should  recognise  her  step  among  a  thousand, 
and  if,  by  chance,  some  one  uttered  her  name,  I  should  turn 
round  ;  it  is  impossible  that  she  should  not  have  one  of  the 
five  or  six  names  that  I  have  given  her  in  my  head. 

"  She  is  twenty-six  years  old,  neither  more  nor  less.  She  is 
not  without  experience,  and  she  is  not  yet  satiated.  It  is  a 


60  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

charming  age  for  making  love  as  it  ought  to  be,  without 
childishness  and  without  libertinism.  She  is  of  medium 
height  I  like  neither  a  giantess  nor  a  dwarf.  I  wish  to  be  able 
to  carry  my  goddess  by  myself  from  the  sofa  to  the  bed ; 
but  it  would  be  disagreeable  to  have  to  look  for  her  in  the 
latter.  When  raising  herself  slightly  on  tiptoe,  her  mouth 
should  reach  my  kiss.  That  is  the  proper  height.  As  to  her 
figure,  she  is  rather  plump  than  thin.  I  am  something  of  the 
Turk  in  this  matter,  and  I  should  scarcely  like  to  meet  with  a 
corner  when  I  expected  a  circumference ;  a  woman's  skin 
should  be  well  filled,  her  flesh  compact  and  firm,  like  the 
pulp  of  a  peach  that  is  nearly  ripe  :  and  the  mistress  I  shall 
have  is  made  just  so.  She  is  a  blonde  with  dark  eyes,  white 
like  a  blonde,  with  the  colour  of  a  brunette,  and  a  red  and 
sparkling  smile.  The  lower  lip  rather  large,  the  eyeball 
swimming  in  a  flood  of  natural  moisture,  her  breast  round, 
small,  and  firm,  her  hands  long  and  plump,  her  walk 
undulating  like  a  snake  standing  on  its  tail,  her  hips  full  and 
yielding,  her  shoulders  broad,  the  nape  of  her  neck  covered 
with  down :  a  style  of  beauty  at  once  delicate  and  compact, 
graceful  and  healthy,  poetic  and  real ;  a  subject  of  Giorgione's 
wrought  by  Rubens. 

"  Here  is  her  costume  :  she  wears  a  robe  of  scarlet  or  black 
velvet,  with  slashings  of  white  satin  or  silver  cloth,  an  open 
bodice,  a  large  ruff  a  la  Medici,  a  felt  hat  capriciously  drawn 
up  like  Helena  Systerman's,  and  with  long  feathers  curled 
and  crisp,  a  golden  chain  or  a  stream  of  diamonds  about  her 
neck,  and  a  quantity  of  large,  variously  enamelled  rings  on  all 
her  fingers. 

"  I  will  not  excuse  her  a  ring  or  a  bracelet.  Her  robe  must 
be  literally  of  velvet  or  brocade ;  at  the  very  most,  I  might 
permit  her  to  stoop  to  satin.  I  would  rather  rumple  a  silk 
skirt  than  a  linen  one,  and  let  pearls  and  feathers  fall  from  the 
hair  than  natural  flowers  or  a  simple  bow ;  I  know  that  the 
lining  of  a  linen  skirt  is  often  at  least  as  tempting  as  that  of  a 
siik  one,  but  I  prefer  the  silk  one. 

"  Thus,  in  my  dreams,   I  have  given  myself  as  mistresses 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  61 

many  queens,  many  empresses,  many  princesses,  many  sultanas, 
many  celebrated  courtesans,  but  never  a  commoner  or  a 
shepherdess ;  and  amid  my  most  vagrant  desires,  I  have  never 
taken  advantage  of  any  one  on  a  carpet  of  grass  or  in  a  bed  of 
serge  d'Aumale.  I  consider  beauty  a  diamond  which  should 
be  mounted  and  set  in  gold.  I  cannot  imagine  a  beautiful 
woman  without  a  carriage,  horses,  serving-men,  and  all  that 
belongs  to  an  income  of  four  thousand  a  year :  there  is  a 
harmony  between  beauty  and  wealth.  One  requires  the  other  : 
a  pretty  foot  calls  for  a  pretty  shoe,  a  pretty  shoe  calls  for  a 
carpet,  and  a  carriage,  and  all  the  rest  of  it.  A  beautiful 
woman,  poorly  dressed  and  in  a  mean  house,  is,  to  my  mind, 
the  most  painful  sight  that  one  could  see,  and  I  could  not  feel 
love  towards  such  a  one.  It  is  only  the  handsome  and  the 
rich  who  can  make  love  without  being  ridiculous  or  pitiable. 
At  this  rate  few  people  would  be  entitled  to  make  love  :  1 
myself  should  be  the  first  to  be  excluded  ;  but  such  is  never- 
theless my  opinion. 

"  It  will  be  in  the  evening,  during  a  beautiful  sunset,  that 
we  shall  meet  for  the  first  time ;  the  sky  will  have  those  clear 
yellow  and  pale-green  orange-coloured  tints  that  we  see  in  the 
pictures  of  the  old  masters  ;  there  will  be  a  great  avenue  of 
flowering  chestnut  trees  and  venerable  elms  filled  with  wood- 
pigeons — fine  trees  of  fresh  dark  green,  giving  a  shade  full  of 
mystery  and  dampness ;  a  few  statues  here  and  there,  some 
marble  vases  with  their  snowy  whiteness  standing  out  in  relief 
on  the  ground  of  green,  a  sheet  of  water  with  the  familiar 
swan,  and,  quite  in  the  background,  a  mansion  of  brick  and 
stone,  as  in  the  time  of  Henri  IV,  with  a  peaked  slate  roof, 
lofty  chimneys,  weathercocks  on  all  the  gables,  and  long  narrow 
windows. 

"At  one  of  these  windows,  the  queen  of  my  soul,  in  the  dress 
I  have  just  described,  leaning  with  an  air  of  melancholy  on  the 
balcony,  and  behind  her  a  little  negro  holding  her  fan  and 
her  parrot.  You  see  that  nothing  is  wanting,  and  that  the 
whole  thing  is  perfectly  absurd.  The  fair  one  drops  her 
glove ;  I  pick  it  up,  kiss  it,  and  bring  it  to  her.  We  enter  into 


62  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

conversation ;  I  display  all  the  wit  that  I  do  not  possess  ;  I  say 
charming  things ;  I  am  answered  in  the  same  way,  I  rejoin, 
it  is  a  display  of  fireworks,  a  luminous  rail,  of  dazzling  words. 
In  short,  I  am  adorable — and  adored.  Supper-time  arrives ;  I 
am  invited,  and  accept  the  invitation.  What  a  supper,  my  dear 
friend,  and  what  a  cook  is  my  imagination  !  The  wine  laughs 
in  the  crystal,  the  brown  and  white  pheasant  smokes  in  the 
blazoned  dish ;  the  banquet  is  prolonged  far  into  the  night,  and 
you  may  be  quite  sure  that  I  do  not  end  the  latter  at  my  own 
home.  Is  not  this  well  conceived  ?  Nothing  in  the  world  can 
be  more  simple,  and  it  is  truly  very  astonishing  that  it  has  not 
come  to  pass  ten  times  rather  than  once. 

"  Sometimes  it  is  in  a  large  forest.  The  hunt  sweeps  by ; 
the  horn  sounds,  and  the  pack  giving  tongue  crosses  the 
path  with  the  swiftness  of  lightning ;  the  fair  one,  in  a  riding 
habit,  is  mounted  on  a  Turkish  steed  as  white  as  milk,  and  as 
frisky  and  mettlesome  as  possible.  Although  she  is  an  excellent 
horsewoman,  he  paws  the  ground,  caracoles,  rears,  and  she  has 
all  the  trouble  in  the  world  to  hold  him  in ;  he  gets  the  bit 
between  his  teeth  and  takes  her  straight  towards  a  precipice. 
I  fall  there  from  the  sky  for  the  purpose,  check  the  horse,  take 
the  fainting  princess  in  rny  arms,  restore  her,  and  bring  her 
back  to  the  mansion.  What  well-born  woman  would  refuse 
her  heart  to  a  man  who  has  risked  his  life  for  her?  Not 
one;  and  gratitude  is  a  cross-road  which  very  quickly  leads 
to  love. 

"  You  will,  at  all  events,  admit  that  when  I  go  in  for  romance, 
it  is  not  by  halves  that  I  do  so,  and  that  I  am  as  foolish  as  it 
is  possible  to  be.  It  is  always  so,  for  there  is  nothing  in  the 
world  more  disagreeable  than  folly  with  reason  in  it  You  will 
almost  admit  that  when  I  write  letters  they  are  volumes  rather 
than  simple  notes.  In  everything,  I  like  what  goes  beyond 
ordinary  limits.  That  is  the  reason  why  I  am  fond  of  you.  Do 
not  laugh  too  much  at  all  the  nonsense  I  have  scribbled  to  you  : 
I  am  laying  my  pen  aside  in  order  to  put  it  into  practice ;  for 
I  ever  come  back  to  the  same  refrain :  I  want  to  have  a 
mistress.  I  do  not  know  whether  it  will  be  the  lady  of  the  park 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUHN.  63 

or  the  beauty  of  the  balcony,  but  I  bid  you  good-bye  that  I  may 
commence  my  quest.  My  resolution  is  taken.  Should  she, 
whom  I  seek,  be  concealed  in  the  remotest  part  of  the  kingdom 
of  Cathay  or  Samarcand,  I  shall  manage  to  find  her  out.  I 
will  let  you  know  of  the  success  or  failure — I  hope  it  will  be 
the  success — of  my  enterprise.  Pray  for  me,  my  dear  friend. 
For  my  own  part,  I  am  putting  on  my  finest  coat,  and  am 
leaving  the  house  determined  not  to  return  without  a  mistress 
in  accordance  with  my  ideas.  I  have  been  dreaming  long 
enough  ;  to  action  now. 

"  P.  S. — Send  me   some  news   of  little   D ;    what   has 

become  of  him  ?  No  one  here  knows  anything  about  him  , 
and  give  my  compliments  to  your  worthy  brother  and  lo  the 
whole  family." 


II. 


.'ELL  !  my  friend,  I  have  come  in  again  without 
having  been  to  Cathay,  Cashmere,  or  Samar. 
cand ;  but  it  is  right  to  say  tnat  I  have  not  a 
mistress  any  more  than  before.  Yet  I  had 
taken  myself  by  the  hand  and  sworn  my  greatest  oath  that  I 
would  go  to  the  end  of  the  world — and  I  have  not  even  been 
to  the  end  of  the  town.  I  do  not  know  how  it  is,  but  I  have 
never  been  able  to  keep  my  word  to  any  one,  even  to  myself: 
the  devil  must  have  a  hand  in  it.  If  I  say,  '  I  shall  go  there 
to-morrow,'  I  am  sure  to  remain  where  I  am ;  if  I  purpose 
going  to  the  wine  shop,  I  go  to  church ;  if  I  wish  to  go  to 
church,  the  roads  become  as  confused  beneath  my  feet  as 
skeins  of  thread,  and  I  find  myself  in  quite  a  different  place ; 
I  fast  when  I  have  determined  on  an  orgie,  and  so  on.  Thus 
I  believe  that  my  resolve  to  have  a  mistress  is  what  prevents 
me  from  having  one. 

"  I  must  give  you  a  detailed  account  of  my  expedition  ;  it  is 
quite  worthy  of  the  honours  of  narration.  That  day  I  had 
spent  two  full  hours  at  least  at  my  toilet.  I  had  my  hair 
combed  and  curled,  the  small  amount  of  moustache  that  I 
possess  turned  up  and  waxed,  and  with  my  usually  pale  face 
animated  somewhat  by  the  emotion  of  desire,  I  was  really  not 
so  bad.  At  last,  after  looking  at  myself  carefully  in  the  glass 
in  different  lights  to  see  whether  I  had  a  sufficiently  handsome 
and  gallant  appearance,  I  went  resolutely  out  of  the  house, 
with  lofty  countenance,  chin  in  air,  and  one  hand  on  my  hin, 
looking  straight  before  me,  making  the  heels  of  my  boots  ratte 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  6; 

like  an  anspessade,  elbowing  the  townsfolk,  and  with  quite  a 
victorious  and  triumphal  mien. 

"  I  was  like  another  Jason  going  to  the  conquest  of  the 
Golden  Fleece.  But,  alas  !  Jason  was  more  fortunate  than  1 : 
besides  the  conquest  of  the  fleece  he  at  the  same  time  effected 
the  conquest  of  a  beautiful  princess,  while,  as  for  me,  I  have 
neither  princess  nor  fleece. 

"  I  went  away,  then,  through  the  streets,  noticing  all  the 
women,  and  hastening  up  to  them  and  looking  at  them  as 
closely  as  possible  when  they  seemed  worth  the  trouble  of  an 
examination.  Some  would  assume  their  most  virtuous  air,  and 
pass  without  raising  their  eyes.  Others  would  at  first  be  sur- 
prised, and  then,  if  they  had  good  teeth,  would  smile.  Others 
again  would  turn  after  a  little  to  see  me  when  they  thought  I 
was  no  longer  looking  at  them,  and  blush  like  cherries  when 
they  found  themselves  face  to  face  with  me. 

"  The  weather  was  fine,  and  there  was  a  crowd  of  people  out 
walking.  And  yet,  I  must  confess,  in  spite  of  all  the  respect  I 
entertain  towards  that  interesting  half  of  the  human  race,  that 
which  it  is  agreed  to  call  the  fair  sex  is  devilishly  ugly  :  in  a 
hundred  women  there  was  scarcely  one  that  was  passable. 
This  one  had  a  moustache  ;  that  one  had  a  blue  nose ;  others 
had  red  spots  instead  of  eyebrows.  One  was  not  badly  made, 
but  her  face  was  covered  with  pimples.  A  second  had  a 
charming  head,  but  she  might  have  scratched  her  ear  with 
her  shoulder.  A  third  would  have  shamed  Praxiteles  with  the 
roundness  and  softness  of  certain  curves,  but  she  skated  on  feet 
that  were  like  Turkish  stirrups.  Yet  another  displayed  the  most 
magnificent  shoulders  that  one  could  see ;  but  as  a  set  off,  her 
hands  resembled  for  shape  and  size  those  enormous  scarlet 
gloves  which  haberdashers  use  as  signs.  And  generally,  what 
fatigue  was  there  on  these  faces  !  how  blighted,  etiolated,  and 
basely  worn  by  petty  passions  and  petty  vices  !  What  expres- 
sions of  envy,  evil  curiosity,  greediness,  and  shameless  coquetry ! 
And  how  much  more  ugly  is  a  woman  who  is  not  handsome 
than  a  man  who  is  not  so  ! 

"  I  saw  nothing  good — except  some  grisettes.      But  there 


b6  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

is  more  linen  than  silk  to  rumple  in  that  quarter,  and  they 
are  no  affair  of  mine.  In  truth,  I  believe  that  man,  and 
by  man  I  also  understand  woman,  is  the  ugliest  animal  on 
earth.  This  quadruped  who  walks  on  his  hind  legs  seems  to 
me  singularly  presumptuous  in  assigning  quite  as  a  matter  of 
right  the  first  rank  in  creation  to  himself.  A  lion,  or  a  tiger,  is 
handsomer  than  man,  and  many  individuals  in  their  species 
attain  to  all' the  beauty  that  belongs  to  their  nature.  This  is 
extremely  rare  among  men.  How  many  abortions  for  one 
Antinoiis  !  how  many  Gothones  for  one  Phyllis  ! 

"I  am  greatly  afraid,  my  dear  friend,  that  I  shall  never 
embrace  my  ideal,  and  yet  there  is  nothing  extravagant  or  un- 
natural in  it.  It  is  not  the  ideal  of  a  third-form  schoolboy.  I 
do  not  require  globes  of  ivory,  nor  columns  of  alabaster,  nor 
traceries  of  azure  ;  and  in  its  composition  I  have  employed 
neither  lilies,  nor  snow,  nor  roses,  nor  jet,  nor  ebony,  nor  coral, 
nor  ambrosia,  nor  pearls,  nor  diamonds ;  I  have  left  the  stars 
of  heaven  in  peace,  and  I  have  not  unhooked  the  sun  out  of 
season.  It  is  almost  a  vulgar  ideal,  so  simple  is  it ;  and  it 
seems  to  me  that  with  a  bag  or  two  of  piastres  I  might  find  it 
ready  made  and  completely  realised  in  no  matter  which  bazaar 
of  Constantinople  or  Smyrna ;  it  would  probably  cost  me  less 
than  a  horse  or  a  thorough-bred  dog.  And  to  think  that  I  shall 
never  attain  to  this — for  I  feel  that  I  shall  never  do  so  !  It  is 
enough  to  madden  one,  and  I  fall  into  the  finest  passions  in 
the  world  against  my  fate. 

"  As  for  you — you  are  not  so  foolish  as  I  am,  and  you  are 
fortunate ;  you  have  simply  given  yourself  up  to  your  life  with- 
out tormenting  yourself  to  shape  it,  and  you  have  taken  things 
as  they  came.  You  have  not  sought  happiness,  and  it  has 
sought  you  ;  you  are  loved,  and  you  love.  I  do  not  envy  you — 
you  must  not  think  that,  at  least — but  when  I  reflect  on 
your  bliss,  I  feel  less  joyous  than  I  ought  to  be,  and  I  say 
to  myself  with  a  sigh  that  I  would  gladly  enjoy  similar 
felicity. 

"  Perhaps  my  happiness  has  passed  close  to  me,  and  in  my 
blindness  I  have  not  seen  it.  Perhaps  the  voice  has  spoken, 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  67 

and  the  noise  of  the  storms  within  me  has  prevented  me  from 
hearing. 

"  Perhaps  I  have  been  loved  in  obscurity  by  some  humble 
heart  that  I  have  disregarded  and  broken.  Perhaps  I  have 
myself  been  the  ideal  of  another,  the  lode-star  of  some  soul  in 
suspense,  the  dream  of  a  night  and  the  thought  of  a  day.  Had 
I  looked  to  my  feet,  I  might  perhaps  have  seen  some  fair 
Magdalene,  with  her  box  of  odours  and  her  sweeping  hair.  I 
passed  along  with  my  arms  raised  towards  the  heavens,  desiring 
to  pluck  the  stars  which  fled  from  me,  and  disdaining  to  pick  up 
the  little  Easter  daisy  that  was  opening  her  golden  heart  to  me 
in  the  dewy  grass.  I  have  made  a  great  mistake  :  I  have  asked 
from  love  something  more  than  love,  and  that  it  could  not  give. 
I  forgot  that  love  was  naked  ;  I  did  not  understand  the  mean- 
ing of  this  grand  symbol.  I  have  asked  from  it  robes  of 
brocade,  feathers,  diamonds,  sublimity  of  soul,  knowledge, 
poetry,  beauty,  youth,  supreme  power — everything  tljat  is  not 
itself.  Love  can  offer  itself  alone,  and  he  who  would  obtain 
from  it  aught  else  is  not  worthy  to  be  loved. 

"  I  have  without  doubt  hastened  too  much  :  my  hour  has 
not  come ;  God,  who  has  lent  me  life,  will  not  take  it  back 
from  me  before  I  have  lived.  To  what  end  give  a  lyre  without 
strings  to  a  poet,  or  a  life  without  love  to  a  man  ?  God  could 
not  do  such  an  inconsistent  thing ;  and  no  doubt  He  will,  at 
His  chosen  time,  place  in  my  path  her  whom  I  am  to  love,  and 
by  whom  I  am  to  be  loved.  But  why  has  love  come  to  me 
before  the  mistress?  Why  am  I  thirsty,  yet  without  the  spring 
at  which  to  quench  my  thirst?  or  why  can  I  not  fly  like  the 
birds  of  the  desert  to  the  spot  where  there  is  water?  The 
world  is  to  me  a  Sahara  without  wells  or  date-trees.  I  have 
not  a  single  shady  nook  in  my  life  where  I  can  screen  myself 
from  the  sun  :  I  endure  all  the  fervour  of  passion  without  its 
raptures  and  unspeakable  delights ;  I  know  its  torments,  and 
am  without  its  pleasures.  I  am  jealous  of  what  does  not  exist; 
I  am  disquieted  by  the  shadow  of  a  shadow;  I  heave  sighs 
which  have  no  motive ;  I  suffer  sleeplessness  which  no  wor- 
shipped phantom  comes  to  adorn  j  I  shed  tears  which  flow  to 


68  MADEMOISELLE  UE  MAUPIN. 

the  ground  without  being  dried ;  I  give  to  the  winds  kisses 
which  are  not  returned ;  I  wear  out  my  eyes  trying  to  grasp 
in  the  distance  an  uncertain  and  deceitful  form ;  I  wait  for 
what  is  not  to  come,  and  I  count  the  hours  anxiously,  as 
though  I  had  an  appointment  to  keep. 

"Whoever  thou  art,  angel  or  demon,  maid  or  courtesan, 
shepherdess  or  princess,  whether  thou  comest  from  the  north 
or  from  the  south,  thou  whom  1  know  not,  and  whom  I  love  ! 
oh  !  force  me  not  to  wait  longer  for  thee,  or  the  flame  will 
consume  the  altar,  and  thou  wilt  find  in  the  place  of  my  heart 
but  a  heap  of  cold  ashes.  Descend  from  the  sphere  where 
thou  art;  leave  the  crystal  skies,  consoling  spirit,  and  come 
thou  to  cast  the  shadow  of  thy  mighty  wings  upon  my  soul. 
Come  thou,  woman  whom  I  will  love,  that  I  may  close  about 
thee  the  arms  that  have  been  open  for  so  long.  Let  the  golden 
doors  of  the  palace  wherein  she  dwells  turn  on  their  hinges ; 
let  the  humble  latch  of  her  cottage  rise ;  let  the  branches  in 
the  woods  and  the  briars  of  the  wayside  untwine  themselves ; 
let  the  enchantments  of  the  turret  and  the  spells  of  the 
magicians  be  broken  ;  let  the  ranks  of  the  crowd  be  opened 
up  to  suffer  her  to  pass  through. 

"  If  thou  comest  too  late,  O  my  ideal !  I  shall  not  have  the 
power  left  to  love  thee.  My  soul  is  like  a  dovecote  full  of 
doves.  At  every  hour  of  the  day  there  flies  forth  some  desire. 
The  doves  return  to  the  cote,  but  desires  return  not  to  the 
heart.  The  azure  of  the  sky  becomes  white  with  their  count- 
less swarms;  they  pass  away,  through  space,  from  world  to 
world,  from  clime  to  clime,  in  quest  of  some  love  where  they 
may  perch  and  pass  the  night :  hasten  thy  step,  O  my  dream ! 
or  thou  wilt  find  in  the  empty  nest  but  the  shells  of  the  birds 
that  have  flown  away. 

"  My  friend,  companion  of  my  childhood,  to  you  alone 
could  I  relate  such  things  as  these.  Write  to  me  that  you 
pity  me,  and  that  you  do  not  reckon  me  a  hypochondriac  ; 
afford  me  comfort,  for  never  did  I  need  it  more :  how  enviable 
are  those  who  have  a  passion  which  they  can  satisfy !  The 
drunkard  never  encounters  cruelty  in  his  bottle.  He  fall? 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  69 

from  the  tavern  into  the  kennel,  and  is  more  happy  on  his 
heap  of  filth  than  a  king  upon  his  throne.  The  sensualist  goes 
to  courtesans  for  facile  amours  or  shameless  refinements.  A 
painted  cheek,  a  short  petticoat,  a  naked  breast,  a  licentious 
speech,  and  he  is  happy ;  his  eye  grows  white,  his  lip  is  wet ; 
he  attains  the  last  degree  of  his  happiness,  he  feels  the  rapture 
of  his  coarse  voluptuousness.  The  gamester  has  need  but  of 
a  green  cloth  and  a  pack  of  greasy  and  worn-out  cards  to 
obtain  the  keen  pangs,  nervous  spasms,  and  diabolical  enjoy- 
ments of  his  horrible  passion.  Such  people  as  these  may  be 
sated  or  amused ;  but  that  is  impossible  for  me. 

"  This  idea  has  so  taken  possession  of  me  that  I  no  longer 
love  the  arts,  and  poetry  has  no  longer  any  charm  for  me. 
What  formerly  transported  me,  makes  not  the  least  impression 
on  me. 

"  I  begin  to  believe  that  I  am  in  the  wrong,  and  that  I  am 
asking  more  from  nature  and  society  than  they  can  give. 
What  I  seek  has  no  existence,  and  I  ought  not  to  complain  for 
having  failed  to  find  it.  Yet  if  the  woman  of  our  dreams  is 
impossible  to  the  conditions  of  human  nature,  what  is  it  that 
causes  us  to  love  her  only  and  none  other,  since  we  are  men, 
and  our  instinct  should  be  an  infallible  guide?  Who  has 
given  us  the  idea  of  this  imaginary  woman  ?  From  what  clay 
have  we  formed  this  invisible  statue  ?  Whence  took  we  the 
feathers  that  we  have  placed  on  the  back  of  this  chimera? 
What  mystic  bird  placed  unnoted  in  some  dark  corner  of  our 
soul  the  egg  from  which  there  has  come  forth  our  dream  ? 
What  is  this  abstract  beauty  which  we  feel  but  cannot  define? 
Why,  in  the  presence  of  some  woman  who  is  often  charming,  do 
we  sometimes  say  that  she  is  beautiful,  while  we  think  her  very 
ugly  ? 

"  Where  is  the  model,  the  type,  the  inward  pattern  which 
affords  us  the  standard  of  comparison? — for  beauty  is  not  an 
absolute  idea,  and  it  can  be  estimated  only  by  contrast.  Have 
we  seen  it  in  the  skies, — in  a  star, — at  a  ball,  under  a  mother's 
shadow,  the  fresh  bud  of  a  leafless  rose  ?  Was  it  in  Italy  or  in 
Spain  ?  Was  it  here  or  was  it  there,  yesterday  or  a  long  lime 


70  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAITPIN. 

ago  ?  Was  it  the  worshipped  courtesan,  the  fashionable  singer, 
the  prince's  daughter?  A  proud  and  noble  head  bending 
beneath  a  weighty  diadem  of  pearls  and  rubies  ?  A  young  and 
childish  face  stooping  among  the  nasturtiums  and  bindweeds  at 
the  window  ?  To  what  school  belonged  that  picture  in  which 
this  beauty  stood  out  white  and  radiant  amid  the  dark  shadows  ? 
Was  it  Raphael  who  caressed  the  outline  that  pleases  you  ? 
Was  it  Cleomenes  who  polished  the  marble  that  you  adore? 
Are  you  in  love  with  a  Madonna  or  a  Diana?  Is  your  ideal 
an  angel,  a  sylphid,  or  a  woman  ? 

"  Alas  !  it  is  something  of  all  this,  and  yet  it  is  not  this. 

"  Such  transparency  of  tone,  such  freshness  so  charming  and 
full  of  splendour,  such  flesh  wherein  runs  so  much  blood  and 
life,  such  beautiful  flaxen  hair  spreading  itself  like  a  mantle  of 
gold,  such  sparkling  smiles  and  such  amorous  dimples,  such 
shapes  undulating  like  flames,  such  force  and  such  suppleness, 
such  satin  gloss  and  such  rich  lines,  such  plump  arms  and  such 
fleshy  and  polished  backs — all  this  exquisite  health  belongs  to 
Rubens.  Raphael  alone  could  fill  lineaments  so  chaste  with 
that  pale  amber  colour.  What  other,  save  he,  curved  those 
long  eye-brows  so  delicate  and  so  black,  and  spread  the  fringes 
of  those  eye-lashes  so  modestly  cast  down  ?  Do  you  think  that 
Allegri  goes  for  nothing  in  your  ideal  ?  It  is  from  him  that  the 
lady  of  your  thoughts  has  stolen  the  dull,  warm  whiteness  that 
enraptures  you.  She  has  stood  for  long  before  his  canvases 
to  surprise  the  secret  of  that  angelic  and  ever  full-blown  smile; 
she  has  modelled  the  oval  of  her  face  on  the  oval  of  a  nymph 
or  a  saint.  That  line  of  the  hip  which  winds  so  voluptuously 
belongs  to  the  sleeping  Antiope.  Those  fat,  delicate  hands 
might  be  claimed  by  Danae  or  Magdalene. 

"  Dusty  antiquity  itself  has  provided  many  of  the  materials 
or  the  composition  of  your  young  chimera.  Those  strong  and 
supple  loins  around  which  you  twine  your  arms  with  so  much 
passion  were  sculptured  by  Praxiteles.  That  divinity  has  pur- 
posely suffered  the  tip  of  her  charming  little  foot  to  pass 
through  the  ashes  of  Herculaneum  that  your  idol  may  not  be 
lame.  Nature  has  also  contributed  her  share.  Here  and  there 


MADEMOISELLE   DE   MAUPIN.  71 

in  the  prism  of  desire  you  have  seen  a  beautiful  eye  beneath 
a  window-blind,  an  ivory  brow  pressed  against  a  pane,  a  smiling 
mouth  behind  a  fan.  From  a  hand  you  have  divined  the  arm, 
and  from  an  ankle,  the  knee.  What  you  saw  was  perfect ;  you 
supposed  the  rest  to  be  like  what  you  saw,  and  you  completed 
it  with  portions  of  other  beauties  obtained  elsewhere. 

"  Even  the  ideal  beauty  realised  by  the  painters  did  not 
satisfy  you,  and  you  have  sought  from  the  poets  more  rounded 
curves,  more  ethereal  forms,  more  divine  charms,  and  more 
exquisite  refinements.  You  have  besought  them  to  give 
breath  and  speech  to  your  phantom,  all  their  love,  all  their 
musing,  all  their  joy  and  sadness,  their  melancholy  and 
their  morbidness,  all  their  memories  and  all  their  hopes, 
their  knowledge  and  their  passions,  their  spirit  and  their 
heart.  All  this  you  have  taken  from  them,  and  to  crown  the 
impossible  you  have  added  your  own  passion,  your  own 
spirit,  your  own  dream,  and  your  own  thought.  The  star  has 
lent  its  ray,  the  flower  its  fragrance,  the  palette  its  colour,  the 
poet  his  harmony,  the  marble  its  form,  and  you  your  desire. 

"  How  could  a  real  woman,  eating  and  drinking,  getting  up 
in  the  morning  and  going  to  bed  at  night,  however  adorable 
and  full  of  charm  she  might  otherwise  be,  compare  with  a 
creature  such  as  this  ?  It  could  not  reasonably  be  expected, 
and  yet  it  is  expected  and  sought  What  strange  blindness  ! 
It  is  sublime  or  absurd.  How  I  pity  and  how  I  admire  those 
who  pursue  their  dream  in  the  teeth  of  all  reality,  and  die 
content  if  they  have  but  once  kissed  the  lips  of  their  chimera ! 
But  what  a  fearful  fate  is  that  of  a  Columbus  who  has  failed  to 
discover  his  world,  and  of  a  lover  who  has  not  found  his 
mistress  ! 

"Ah!  if  I  were  a  poet  my  songs  should  be  consecrated  to 
those  whose  lives  have  been  failures ;  whose  arrows  have  missed 
the  mark,  who  have  died  without  speaking  the  word  they  had 
to  utter  and  without  pressing  the  hand  that  was  destined  for 
them;  to  all  that  has  proved  abortive  and  to  all  that  has  passed 
unnoticed,  to  the  stifled  fire,  to  the  barren  genius,  to  the 
unknown  pearl  in  the  depths  of  the  sea,  to  all  that  has  loved 


72  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

without  return,  and   to  all  that  has  suffered  with   pity  from 
none.     It  would  be  a  noble  task. 

"  Plato  was  right  in  wishing  to  banish  you  from  his  republic, 
O  ye  poets  !  for  what  evil  have  you  wrought  upon  us  !  How 
yet  more  bitter  has  our  wormwood  been  rendered  by  your 
ambrosia!  and  how  yet  more  arid  and  desolate  seems  our  life  to 
us  after  feasting  our  eyes  on  the  vistas  which  you  open  up  to  us 
of  the  infinite  !  How  terrible  a  conflict  have  your  dreams  waged 
against  our  realities,  and  how  have  our  hearts  been  trodden 
and  trampled  on  by  these  rude  athletes  during  the  contest ! 

"  We  have  sat  down  like  Adam  at  the  foot  of  the  walls  of 
the  terrestrial  paradise,  on  the  steps  of  the  staircase  leading  to 
the  world  which  you  have  created,  seeing  a  light  brighter  than 
the  sun's  flashing  through  the  chinks  of  the  door,  and  hear- 
ing indistinctly  some  scattered  notes  of  a  seraphic  harmony. 
Whenever  one  of  the  elect  enters  or  comes  forth  amid  a  flood 
of  splendour,  we  stretch  our  necks  trying  to  see  something 
through  the  half-opened  portal.  The  fairy  architecture  has 
not  its  .qual  save  in  Arab  tales.  Piles  of  columns  with  arches 
superposed,  pillars  twisted  in  spirals,  foliage  marvellously 
carved,  hollowed  trefoils,  porphyry,  jaspar,  lapis-lazuli — but 
what  know  I  of  the  transparencies  and  dazzling  reflections,  of 
the  profusion  of  strange  gems,  sardonyx,  chrysoberyl,  aqua 
marina,  rainbow-tinted  opals,  and  azerodrach,  with  jets  of 
crystals,  torches  that  would  make  the  stars  grow  pale,  a 
lustrous  vapour,  giddy  and  filled  with  sound — a  luxury  per- 
fectly Assyrian  ! 

"  The  door  swings  to  again,  and  you  see  no  more.  Your 
eyes,  filled  with  corrosive  tears,  are  cast  down  on  this  poor 
earth  so  impoverished  and  wan,  on  these  ruined  hovels  and  on 
this  tattered  race,  on  your  soul,  an  arid  rock  where  nothing 
living  springs,  on  all  the  wretchedness  and  misfortune  of 
reality.  Ah  !  if  only  we  could  fly  so  far,  if  the  steps  of  that 
fiery  staircase  did  not  burn  our  feet ;  but,  alas  !  Jacob's  ladder 
can  be  ascended  only  by  angels  ! 

"What  a  fate  is  that  of  the  poor  man  at  the  gate  of  the  rich  ! 
What  keen  irony  is  that  of  a  palace  facing  a  cottage — the  ideal 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  73 

facing  the  real,  poetry  facing  prose  !  What  rooted  hate  must 
wring  the  heart-strings  of  the  wretched  beings  !  What  gnashings 
of  teeth  must  sound  through  the  night  from  their  pallet,  as  the 
wind  brings  to  their  ears  the  sighs  of  theorbos  and  viols  of 
love  !  Poets,  painters,  sculptors,  musicians,  why  have  you  lied 
to  us  ?  Poets,  why  have  you  told  us  your  dreams  ?  Painters, 
why  have  you  fixed  upon  the  canvas  that  impalpable  phantom 
which  ascended  and  descended  with  your  fits  of  passion 
between  your  heart  and  your  head,  saying  to  us :  '  This  is  a 
woman'?  Sculptors,  why  have  you  taken  marble  from  the 
depths  of  Carrara  to  make  it  express  for  ever,  and  to  the  eyes 
of  all,  your  most  secret  and  fleeting  desire?  Musicians,  why 
have  you  listened  during  the  night  to  the  song  of  the  stars  and 
the  flowers,  and  noted  it  clown  ?  Why  have  you  made  songs  so 
beautiful  that  the  sweetest  voice  saying  to  us,  '  I  love  you,' 
seems  hoarse  as  the  grinding  of  a  saw  or  the  croaking  of  a 
crow?  Curse  you  for  impostors  ! — and  may  fire  from  heaven 
burn  up  and  destroy  all  pictures,  poems,  statues,  and  musical 

scores But  this  is  a  tirade  of  interminable  length,  and  one 

which  deviates  somewhat  from  the  epistolary  style.  What  a 
dose  ! 

"  I  have  given  myself  up  nicely  to  lyrics,  my  dear  friend,  and 
I  have  now  been  writing  bombast  for  some  time  absurdly 
enough.  All  this  is  very  remote  from  our  subject,  which  is,  if 
I  remember  rightly,  the  glorious  and  triumphant  history  of  the 
Chevalier  d'Albert  in  his  pursuit  of  the  most  beautiful  princess 
in  the  world,  as  the  old  romances  say.  But  in  truth  the 
history  is  so  meagre  that  I  am  obliged  to  have  recourse  to 
digressions  and  reflections.  I  hope  that  it  will  not  be  always 
so,  and  that  the  romance  of  rny  life  will  before  long  be  more 
tangled  and  complicated  than  a  Spanish  imbroglio. 

"  After  wandering  from  street  to  street,  I  determined  to  go 
to  one  of  my  friends  who  was  to  introduce  me  to  a  house 
where,  I  was  told,  a  world  of  pretty  women  were  to  be  seen — 
a  collection  of  real  ideals,  enough  to  satisfy  a  score  of  poets. 
There  were  some  to  suit  every  taste — aristocratic  beauties  with 
eagle  looks,  sea-green  eyes,  straight  noses,  proudly  elevated 

K 


74  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

chins,  royal  hands,  and  the  walk  of  a  goddess ;  silver  lilies 
mounted  on  stalks  of  gold ;  simple  violets  of  pale  colour  and 
sweet  perfume,  with  moist  and  downcast  eye,  frail  neck,  and 
diaphanous  flesh  ;  lively  and  piquant  beauties,  affected  beauties, 
and  beauties  of  all  sorts  ;  for  the  house  is  a  very  seraglio,  minus 
the  eunuchs  and  the  kislar  aga. 

"  My  friend  tells  me  that  he  has  already  had  five  or  six 
flames  there — quite  as  many.  This  seems  to  me  prodigious  in 
the  extreme,  and  I  greatly  fear  that  I  shall  not  be  equally 

successful ;  De  C pretends  that  I  shall,  and  that  I  shall 

succeed  beyond  my  wishes.  According  to  him,  I  have  only 
one  fault,  which  will  be  cured  by  time  and  by  mixing  in 
society :  it  is  that  I  esteem  woman  too  much  and  women  not 
enough.  It  is  quite  possible  that  there  may  be  some  truth  in 
this.  He  says  that  I  shall  be  quite  lovable  when  I  have  got 
rid  of  this  little  oddity.  God  grant  it !  Women  must  feel  that 
I  despise  them,  for  a  compliment  which  they  would  think 
adorable  and  charming  to  the  last  degree  in  the  mouth  of 
another,  angers  and  displeases  them  as  much  as  the  most 
cutting  epigram  when  it  proceeds  from  mine.  This  has  pro- 
bably some  connection  with  what  De  C objects  to  in  me. 

"  My  heart  beat  a  little  as  I  ascended  the  staircase,  and  I 

had  scarcely  recovered  from  my  emotion  when  De  C , 

nudging  me  with  his  elbow,  brought  me  face  to  face  with  a 
woman  of  about  thirty  years  of  age,  rather  handsome,  attired 
with  heavy  luxury  and  an  extreme  affectation  of  childish 
simplicity,  which,  however,  did  not  prevent  her  from  being 
plastered  with  red  paint  like  a  coach  wheel.  It  was  the  lady 
of  the  house. 

"  De  C ,  assuming  that  shrill  mocking  voice  so  different 

from  his  customary  tones,  and  which  he  makes  use  of  in  society 
when  he  wishes  to  play  the  charmer,  said  to  her,  with  many 
tokens  of  ironic  respect,  through  which  was  visible  the  most 
.profound  contempt : 

"  '  This  is  the  young  fellow  I  spoke  to  you  about  the  other 
day — a  man  of  the  most  distinguished  merit.  He  belongs  to 
one  of  the  best  families,  and  I  think  that  it  cannot  but  be 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  75 

agreeable  to  you  to  receive  him.      I  have  therefore  taken  the 
liberty  to  introduce  him  to  you.' 

"  '  You  have  certainly  done  quite  right,  sir,'  replied  the  lady, 
mincing  in  the  most  exaggerated  fashion.  Then  she  turned 
to  me,  and,  after  looking  me  over  with  the  corner  of  her  eye 
after  the  manner  of  a  skilled  connoisseur,  and  in  a  way  that 
made  me  blush  to  the  tips  of  my  ears,  said, '  You  may  consider 
yourself  as  invited  once  for  all,  and  come  as  often  as  you  have 
an  evening  to  throw  away.' 

"  I  bowed  awkwardly  enough,  and  stammered  out  some 
unconnected  words,  which  could  not  have  given  her  a  lofty 
opinion  of  my  talents.  The  entrance  of  some  other  people 
released  me  from  the  irksomeness  inseparable  from  an  intro- 
duction, and  De  C ,  drawing  me  into  a  corner  of  the 

window,  began  to  lecture  me  soundly. 

" '  The  deuce  !  You  are  going  to  compromise  me.  I 
announced  you  as  a  phoenix  of  wit,  a  man  of  unbridled  imagi 
nation,  a  lyric  poet,  everything  that  is  most  transcendent  and 
impassioned,  and  there  you  stand  like  a  blockhead  without 
uttering  a  word  !  What  a  miserable  imagination  !  I  thought 
your  humour  more  fertile  than  that.  But  come,  give  your 
tongue  the  rein,  and  chatter  right  and  left.  You  need  not  say 
sensible  and  judicious  things ;  on  the  contrary,  that  might  do 
you  harm.  Speak — that  is  the  essential  thing — speak  much 
and  long.  Draw  attention  to  yourself ;  cast  aside  all  fear  and 
modesty.  Get  it  well  into  your  head  that  all  here  are  fools  or 
nearly  so,  and  do  not  forget  that  an  orator  who  would  succeed 
cannot  despise  his  hearers  enough.  What  do  you  think  of  the 
mistress  of  the  house  ? ' 

"  '  She  displeases  me  considerably  already  ;  and,  though  I 
spoke  to  her  for  scarcely  three  minutes,  I  felt  as  bored  as  if  I 
had  been  her  husband.' 

"  '  Ah  !  is  that  what  you  think  of  her  ?  ' 

" '  Why,  yes.' 

"  '  Your  dislike  to  her  is  then  quite  insurmountable  ?  Well, 
so  much  the  worse.  It  would  have  been  only  decent  to  have 
courted  her  if  but  for  a  month.  It  is  the  proper  thing  to  do,  and 


76  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

a  respectable  young  fellow  cannot  be  introduced  into  society 
except  through  her.' 

" '  Well !  I'll  pay  court  to  her,'  I  replied  with  a  piteous  air, 
'  since  it  is  necessary.  But  is  it  so  essential  as  you  seem  to 
think?' 

-'"Alas!  yes,  it  is  most  indispensable,  and  I  am  going  to 
explain  the  reasons  to  you.  Madame  de  Thdmines  is  at  pre- 
sent in  vogue;  she  has  all  the  absurdities  of  the  day  after  a 
superior  fashion,  sometimes  those  of  to-morrow,  but  never  those 
of  yesterday.  She  is  quite  in  the  swim.  People  wear  what  she 
wears,  and  she  never  wears  what  has  been  worn  already. 
Furthermore  she  is  rich,  and  her  equipages  are  in  the  best 
taste.  She  has  no  wit,  but  much  jargon  ;  she  has  keen  likings 
and  little  passion.  People  please  her,  but  do  not  move  her. 
She  has  a  cold  heart  and  a  licentious  head.  As  to  her  soul — 
if  she  has  one,  which  is  doubtful — it  is  of  the  blackest,  and 
there  is  no  wickedness  or  baseness  of  which  it  is  incapable; 
but  she  is  very  dexterous,  and  she  keeps  up  appearances  just  so 
far  as  is  necessary  to  prevent  anything  being  proved  against  her. 
She  will  grant  her  favours  to  a  man  without  ado,  but  will  not 
write  him  the  simplest  note.  Accordingly  her  most  intimate 
enemies  can  find  nothing  to  say  about  her  except  that  she 
rouges  too  highly,  and  that  certain  portions  of  her  person  have 
not  in  truth  all  the  roundness  that  they  seem  to  possess — which 
is  false.' 

"  '  How  do  you  know  ? ' 

"  '  What  a  question  !  in  the  only  way  one  knows  things  of 
the  kind,  by  finding  out  for  myself.' 

"  '  Then  you've  been  intimate  with  Madame  de  Themines  ? ' 

"  '  Certainly!  Why  not?  It  would  have  been  most  unbe- 
coming if  I  had  not  had  her.  She  has  been  of  great  service  to 
me,  and  I  am  very  grateful  for  it' 

"'I  do  not  undei stand  the  nature  of  the  services  she  can 
have  rendered  you.' 

" '  Are  you  really  a  fool  then  ?  '  said  De  C ,  looking  at 

me  with  the  most  comical  air  in  the  world.  '  Upon  my  word, 
I  am  afraid  so  ?  Must  I  tell  you  the  whole  story  ?  Madame 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  77 

de  The'mines  is  reputed,  and  deservedly  so,  to  have  special 
knowledge  on  certain  subjects,  and  a  young  man  that  she  has 
taken  up  and  favoured  for  a  while  may  present  himself  boldly 
everywhere,  and  be  sure  that  he  will  not  remain  for  long  without 
having  an  affair  on  hand,  and  two  rather  than  one.  Besides 
this  unspeakable  advantage,  there  is  another  no  less  important, 
which  is,  that  as  soon  as  the  women  of  the  world  here  see  that  you 
are  the  recognised  lover  of  Madame  de  Thdmines,  they  will 
make  it  a  pleasure  and  a  duty,  even  if  they  have  not  the  least 
liking  for  you,  to  c^rry  you  off  from  a  woman  who  is  the  fashion 
as  she  is.  Instead  of  the  advances  and  proceedings  that  would 
have  been  necessary,  you  will  not  know  where  to  choose,  and 
you  will  of  necessity  become  the  object  of  all  the  allurements 
and  affectations  imaginable. 

" '  Nevertheless,  if  she  inspires  you  with  too  great  a  repug- 
nance, do  not  take  her.  You  are  not  exactly  obliged  to  do  so, 
though  it  would  have  been  polite  and  proper.  But  make  a 
choice  quickly,  and  attack  her  who  pleases  you  most,  or  who 
seems  to  afford  you  most  facilities,  for  delay  would  lose  you 
the  benefit  of  novelty,  and  the  advantage  it  gives  you  for  a  few 
days  over  all  the  cavaliers  here.  All  these  ladies  have  no  con- 
ception of  those  passions  which  have  their  birth  in  intimacy, 
and  develop  slowly  with  respect  and  silence.  They  are  for 
thunderbolts  and  occult  sympathies — something  marvellously 
well  imagined  to  save  the  tedium  of  resistance,  and  all  the 
prolixity  and  repetition  which  sentiment  mingles  with  the 
romance  of  love,  and  which  only  serve  to  delay  the  conclusion 
uselessly.  These  ladies  are  very  economical  of  their  time,  and 
it  appears  so  precious  to  them  that  they  would  be  grieved  to 
leave  a  single  minute  unemployed.  They  have  a  desire  to 
oblige  mankind,  which  cannot  be  too  highly  praised,  and  they 
love  their  neighbour  as  themselves,  which  is  quite  according 
to  the  Gospel,  and  very  meritorious.  They  are  very  charitable 
creatures,  who  would  not  for  anything  in  the  world  cause  a  man 
to  die  of  despair. 

"  '  There  must  be  three  or  four  already  smitten  in  your 
favour,  and  I  would  advise  you  in  a  friendly  way  to  pursue 


78  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

your  point  with  spirit  over  these  instead  of  amusing  yourself 
gossiping  with  me  in  the  embrasure  of  a  window,  which  will 
not  advance  you  to  any  great  extent' 

"  '  But,  my  dear  De  C ,  I  am  quite  new  to  this  kind  oi 

thing.  I  am  utterly  without  the  power  to  distinguish  at  first 
sight  a  woman  who  is  smitten  from  one  who  is  not ;  and  I 
might  make  strange  blunders  if  you  did  not  assist  me  with 
your  experience.' 

" '  You  are  really  as  primitive  as  you  can  be.  I  did  not 
think  that  it  was  possible  to  be  as  pastoral  and  bucolic  as  that 
in  the  present  blessed  century  !  What  the  devil  do  you  do,  then, 
with  the  large  pair  of  black  eyes  that  you  have  there,  and  that 
would  have  the  most  crushing  effect  if  you  knew  how  to  make 
use  of  them  ? 

"  'Just  look  yonder  a  moment  at  that  little  woman  in  rose, 
playing  with  her  fan  in  the  corner  near  the  fireplace.  She  has 
been  eyeing  you  for  a  quarter  of  an  hour  with  the  most  signifi- 
cant fixity  and  assiduity.  There  is  not  another  in  the  world 
who  can  be  indecent  after  such  a  superior  fashion,  and  display 
such  noble  shamelessness.  She  is  greatly  disliked  by  the 
women  who  despair  of  ever  attaining  to  such  a  height  of  im- 
pudence, but  to  compensate  for  this,  she  is  greatly  liked  by 
the  men,  who  find  in  her  all  the  piquancy  of  a  courtesan.  She 
is  in  truth  charmingly  depraved,  and  full  of  wit,  spirit,  and 
caprice.  She  is  an  excellent  preceptor  for  a  young  man  with 
prejudices.  In  a  week  she  will  rid  your  conscience  of  all 
scruples,  and  corrupt  your  heart  in  such  a  way  that  you  will 
never  be  a  subject  for  ridicule  or  elegy.  She  has  inexpressibly 
practical  ideas  about  everything ;  she  goes  to  the  bottom  of 
things  with  a  swiftness  and  certainty  that  are  astonishing.  She 
is  algebra  incarnate,  is  that  little  woman.  She  is  precisely 
what  is  needed  by  a  dreamer  and  an  enthusiast.  She  will  soon 
cure  you  of  your  vapourish  idealism,  and  she  will  do  you  a 
great  service.  She  will  moreover  do  it  with  the  greatest 
pleasure,  for  it  is  an  instinct  with  her  to  disenchant  poets/ 

"  My  curiosity  being  aroused  by  De  C 's  description,  I 

left  my  retreat,  and  gliding  through  the  various  groups,  ap 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  79 

preached  the  lady,  and  looked  at  her  with  much  attention. 
She  was  perhaps  twenty-five  or  twenty-six  years  of  age.  Her 
figure  was  small,  but  well  made,  though  somewhat  inclined  to 
embonpoint.  Her  arm  was  white  and  plump,  her  hand  noble,  her 
foot  pretty  and  even  too  delicate,  her  shoulders  full  and  glossy, 
and  her  bosom  small,  but  what  there  was  of  it  very  satisfactory, 
and  giving  a  favourable  idea  of  the  remainder.  As  to  her  hair,  it 
was  splendid  in  the  extreme,  of  a  blue  black,  like  that  of  a 
jackdaw's  wing.  The  corner  of  her  eye  was  turned  up  rather 
high  towards  the  temple,  her  nose  slender  with  very  open 
nostrils,  her  mouth  humid  and  sensual,  a  little  furrow  in  the 
lower  lip,  and  an  almost  imperceptible  down  where  the  upper 
was  united  to  it.  And  with  all  this  there  was  such  life,  anima- 
tion, health,  force,  and  such  an  indefinable  expression  of  lust 
skilfully  tempered  with  coquetry  and  intrigue,  that  she  was  in 
short  a  very  desirable  creature,  and  more  than  justified  the 
eager  likings  which  she  had  inspired  and  still  inspired  every 
day. 

"  I  wished  for  her;  but  I  nevertheless  understood  that,  agree- 
able as  she  was,  she  was  not  the  woman  who  would  realise  my 
desire,  and  make  me  say,  '  At  last  I  have  a  mistress  ! ' 

"  I  returned  to  De  C and  said  to  him  :  'I. like  the  lady 

well  enough,  and  I  shall  perhaps  make  arrangements  with  her. 
But  before  saying  anything  definite  and  binding,  I  should  be 
very  glad  if  you  would  be  kind  enough  to  point  me  out  these  in- 
dulgent beauties  who  had  the  goodness  to  be  smitten  with  me, 
so  that  I  may  make  a  choice.  It  would  please  me  too,  seeing 
that  you  are  acting  as  demonstrator  to  me  here,  if  you  would  add 
a  little  account  of  them  with  the  nomenclature  of  their  qualities 
and  their  defects,  the  manner  in  which  they  should  be  attacked, 
and  the  tone  to  adopt  with  them  in  order  that  I  may  not  look 
too  much  like  a  provincial  or  an  author.' 

"  '  Willingly,'  said  De  C .  '  Do  you  see  that  beautiful, 

melancholy  swan,  displaying  her  neck  so  harmoniously,  and 
moving  her  sleeves  as  though  they  were  wings  ?  She  is  modesty 
itself — everything  that  is  chastest  and  most  maidenly  in  the 
world.  She  has  a  brow  of  snow,  a  heart  of  ice,  the  looks  of  a 


Bo  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

Madonna,  the  smile  of  a  simpleton,  her  dress  is  white,  and  he. 
soul  is  the  same.  She  puts  nothing  but  orange-blossoms  or 
leaves  of  the  water-lily  in  her  hair,  and  she  is  connected  with 
the  earth  only  by  a  thread.  She  has  never  had  an  evil  thought, 
and  she  is  profoundly  ignorant  of  how  a  man  differs  from  a 
woman.  The  Holy  Virgin  is  a  Bacchante  beside  her,  which, 
however,  does  not  prevent  her  from  having  had  more  lovers 
than  any  other  woman  of  my  acquaintance,  and  that  is  saying 
a  good  deal.  Just  examine  this  discreet  person's  bosom  for  a 
moment ;  it  is  a  little  masterpiece,  and  it  is  really  difficult  to 
show  so  much  while  hiding  more.  Say,  is  she  not,  with  all  her 
restrictions  and  all  her  prudery,  ten  times  more  indecent  than 
that  good  lady  on  her  left,  who  is  making  a  grand  show  of  two 
hemispheres,  which,  if  they  were  joined  together,  would  make 
a  map  of  the  world  of  natural  size,  or  than  the  other  on  her 
right,  whose  dress  is  open  almost  to  her  stomach,  and  who  is 
parading  her  nothingness  with  charming  intrepidity  ? 

" '  This  maidenly  creature,  if  I  am  not  greatly  mistaken,  has 
already  computed  in  her  head  the  amount  of  love  and  passion 
promised  by  your  paleness  and  black  eyes,  and  what  makes  me 
say  so  is  the  fact  that  she  has  not  once,  apparently,  at  least, 
looked  towards  you  ;  for  she  can  move  her  eyes  with  so  much 
art,  and  look  out  of  the  corner  of  them  so  skilfully,  that  nothing 
escapes  her  ;  one  would  think  that  she  could  see  out  of  the  back 
of  her  head,  for  she  knows  perfectly  well  what  is  going  on  be- 
hind her.  She  is  a  female  Janus.  If  you  would  succeed  with 
her  you  must  lay  swaggering  and  victorious  manners  aside.  You 
must  speak  to  her  without  looking  at  her,  without  making  any 
movement,  in  an  attitude  of  contrition,  and  in  suppressed  and 
respectful  tones.  In  this  way  you  may  say  to  her  what  you 
will,  provided  it  be  suitably  veiled,  and  she  will  allow  you  the 
greatest  freedom  at  first  of  speech,  and  afterwards  of  action. 
Only  be  careful  to  look  at  her  with  tenderness  when  her  own 
eyes  are  cast  down,  and  speak  to  her  of  the  sweets  of  platonic 
love  and  of  the  intercourse  of  the  soul,  while  employing  the 
least  platonic  and  ideal  pantomime  in  the  world  !  She  is  very 
sensual  and  very  susceptible  ;  embrace  her  as  much  as  you 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  Xi 

like ;  but,  when  most  freely  intimate  with  her,  do  not  forget  to 
call  her  madame  two  or  three  times  in  every  sentence.  She 
quarrelled  with  me  because  when  I  was  most  intimate  with 
)ier  I  addressed  her  familiarly  when  saying  something  or  other. 
The  devil!  a  woman  is  not  virtuous  for  nothing.' 

"  '  I  have  no  great  desire  to  hazard  the  adventure,  after 
what  you  have  told  me.  A  prudish  Messalina  !  the  union  is 
monstrous  and  strange.' 

" '  It  is  as  old  as  the  world,  my  dear  fellow  !  It  is  to  be 
seen  every  day,  and  nothing  is  more  common.  You  are  wrong 
not  to  have  fixed  upon  her.  She  has  one  great  charm,  which 
is,  that  with  her  a  man  always  seems  to  be  committing  mortal 
sin,  and  the  least  kiss  appears  perfectly  damnable,  while  in  the 
case  of  others  he  scarcely  thinks  the  sin  a  venial  one,  and  often 
even  thinks  nothing  of  it  at  all.  That  is  why  I  kept  her  longer 
than  any  other  mistress.  I  should  have  had  her  still  if  she 
had  not  left  me  herself.  She  is  the  only  woman  who  has 
anticipated  me,  and  I  have  a  certain  respect  for  her  on  that 
account.  She  has  little  voluptuous  refinements  of  the  most 
exquisite  delicacy,  and  she  possesses  the  great  art  of  making  it 
appear  that  she  has  wrested  from  her  what  she  grants  very 
willingly — a  circumstance  which  gives  each  of  her  favours 
a  peculiar  charm.  You  will  find  in  the  world  ten  of  her 
lovers  who  will  swear  to  you  on  their  honour  that  she  is  the 
most  virtuous  creature  in  existence.  She  is  just  the  contrary. 
It  is  a  curious  study  to  anatomise  virtue  of  that  kind  on  a 
pillow.  Being  forewarned  you  will  not  run  any  risk,  and  you 
will  not  have  the  awkwardness  to  fall  really  in  love  with  her.' 

"  '  And  how  old  is  this  adorable  person  ? '  I  asked,  for, 
examining  her  with  the  most  scrupulous  attention,  I  found  it 
impossible  to  determine  her  age. 

"  '  Ah  !  how  old  is  she  ?  That  is  just  the  mystery,  and  God 
alone  knows.  I  who  pique  myself  on  telling  a  woman's  age  to 
within  a  minute  have  never  been  able  to  find  out.  I  merely 
estimate  approximately  that  she  is  perhaps  from  eighteen  to 
thirty-six  years  of  age.  I  have  seen  her  in  full  dress,  in  dis- 
habille, and  less  scantily  clad,  and  I  can  tell  you  nothing 


82  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

with  respect  to  this.  My  knowledge  is  at  fault ;  the  age 
which  she  seems  particularly  to  be  is  eighteen,  yet  that  cannot 
be  the  case.  She  has  the  body  of  a  maiden  and  the  soul  of 
a  gay  woman,  and  to  become  so  deeply  and  so  speciously 
depraved,  much  time  or  genius  is  necessary ;  it  is  needful  to 
have  a  heart  of  bronze  in  a  breast  of  steel :  she  has  neither 
one  nor  the  other,  and  I  therefore  think  that  she  is  thirty-six  ; 
but  practically  I  do  not  know.' 

" '  Has  she  no  intimate  friend  who  could  give  you  informa- 
tion on  this  point  ? ' 

"  '  No.  She  arrived  in  this  town  two  years  ago.  She  came 
from  the  country,  or  from  abroad,  I  forget  which — an  admirable 
situation  for  a  woman  who  knows  how  to  turn  it  to  account. 
With  such  a  face  as  hers  she  might  give  herself  any  age  she 
liked,  and  date  only  from  the  day  that  she  arrived  here.' 

" '  Nothing  could  be  more  pleasant,  especially  when  some 
impertinent  wrinkle  does  not  come  to  give  you  the  lie,  and 
time,  the  Great  Destroyer,  has  the  goodness  to  lend  himself  to 
this  falsification  of  the  certificate  of  baptism.' 

"  He  showed  me  some  others  who,  according  to  him,  would 
favourably  receive  all  the  petitions  that  it  might  please  me  to 
address  to  them,  and  would  treat  me  with  most  particular 
philanthropy.  But  the  woman  in  rose  at  the  corner  of  the 
fire-place,  and  the  modest  dove  who  served  as  her  antithesis, 
were  incomparably  better  than  all  the  rest ;  and  if  they  had 
not  all  the  qualities  which  I  require,  they  had,  in  appearance 
at  least,  some  of  them. 

I  conversed  the  whole  evening  with  them,  especially  with 
the  latter,  and  was  careful  to  cast  my  ideas  in  the  most  re- 
spectful mould.  Although  she  scarcely  looked  at  me,  I 
thought  that  I  saw  her  eyes  gleam  sometimes  beneath  their 
curtain  of  eyelashes,  and,  when  I  ventured  some  rather  lively 
gallantries,  clothed,  however,  in  most  modest  guise,  a  little 
blush,  checked  and  suppressed,  pass  two  or  three  lines  below 
her  skin,  similar  to  that  produced  by  a  rose-coloured  liquid 
when  poured  into  a  semi-opaque  cup.  Her  replies  were,  in 
general,  sober  and  circumspect,  vet  acute  and  full  of  point, 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  83 

and  they  suggested  more  than  they  expressed.  All  this  was 
intermingled  with  omissions,  hints,  indirect  allusions,  each 
syllable  having  its  purpose,  and  each  silence  its  import. 
Nothing  in  the  world  could  have  been  more  diplomatic  and 
more  charming.  And  yet,  whatever  pleasure  I  may  have 
taken  in  it  for  the  moment,  I  could  not  keep  up  a  conversa- 
tion of  the  kind  for  long.  One  must  be  perpetually  on  the 
alert  and  on  one's  guard,  and  what  I  like  best  of  all  in  a  chat 
is  freedom  and  familiarity. 

"  We  spoke  at  first  of  music,  which  led  us  quite  naturally  to 
speak  of  the  Opera,  next  of  women,  and  then  of  love,  a  sub- 
ject in  which  it  is  easier  than  in  any  other  to  find  means  of 
passing  from  the  general  to  the  particular.  We  vied  with 
each  other  in  making  love ;  you  would  have  laughed  to  listen 
to  me.  In  truth,  Amadis  on  the  poor  Roche  was  but  a 
pedant  without  fire  beside  me.  There  was  generosity,  and  ab- 
negation, and  devotion  enough  to  cause  the  deceased  Roman, 
Curtius,  to  blush  for  shame.  I  really  did  not  think  myself 
capable  of  such  transcendent  balderdash  and  bombast. 

"  I  playing  at  the  most  quintessential  Platonism — does  it 
not  strike  you  as  a  most  facetious  thing,  as  the  best  comedy 
scene  that  could  be  presented  ?  And  then,  good  heavens  ! 
the  perfectly  devout  air,  the  little,  demure,  and  hypocritical 
ways  that  I  displayed  !  I  looked  most  innocent,  and  any 
mother  who  had  heard  me  reasoning  would  not  have  hesi- 
tated at  all  in  letting  me  go  about  with  her  daughter,  and  any 
husband  would  have  entrusted  his  wife  to  me.  On  that 
evening  I  appeared  more  virtuous,  and  was  less  so  than  ever 
in  my  life  before.  I  thought  that  it  was  more  difficult  than 
that  to  play  the  hypocrite,  and  to  say  things  without  in  the 
least  believing  them.  It  must  be  easy  enough,  or  I  must  be 
very  apt  to  have  succeeded  so  agreeably  the  first  time.  In 
truth,  I  have  some  fine  moments. 

"  As  to  the  lady,  she  said  many  things  that  were  most  in- 
geniously detailed,  and  which,  in  spite  of  the  appearance  of 
frankness  which  she  threw  into  them,  denoted  the  most  con- 
summate experience.  You  can  form  no  idea  of  the  subtlety 


84  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

of  her  distinctions.  That  woman  would  saw  a  hair  into  three 
parts  lengthways,  and  would  disconcert  all  the  angelic  and 
seraphic  doctors.  For  the  rest,  she  speaks  in  such  a  manner 
that  it  is  impossible  to  believe  that  she  has  even  the  shadow 
of  a  body.  She  is  immaterial,  vaporous,  and  ideal  enough  to 

make  you  break  your  arms,  and  if  De  C had  not  warned 

me  about  the  ws^C  of  the  animal,  I  should  assuredly  have 
despaired  of  success,  and  have  stood  piteously  aside.  And 
when  a  woman  tells  you  for  two  hours,  with  the  most  dis- 
engaging air  in  the  world,  that  love  lives  only  by  privations 
and  sacrifices,  and  other  fine  things  of  the  sort,  how  the  devil 
can  you  decently  hope  to  persuade  her  some  day  to  place  her- 
self in  such  a  situation  with  you  as  will  enable  you  to  discover 
whether  you  are  both  made  alike  ? 

"  In  short,  we  separated  on  very  friendly  terms,  with  re- 
ciprocal congratulations  on  the  loftiness  and  purity  of  our 
sentiments. 

"The  conversation  with  the  other  one  was,  as  you  may 
imagine,  of  quite  an  opposite  description.  We  laughed  as 
much  as  we  spoke.  We  made  fun  very  wittily  of  all  the 
women  who  were  there ;  but  I  am  mistaken  when  I  say : 
'  We  made  fun  of  them  very  wittily.'  I  should  have  said  that 
'  she '  did  so,  for  a  man  can  never  laugh  effectively  at  a 
woman.  For  my  part,  I  listened  and  approved,  for  it  would 
have  been  impossible  to  draw  a  more  lively  sketch,  or  to  colour 
it  more  highly.  It  was  the  most  curious  gallery  of  caricatures 
that  I  have  ever  seen.  In  spite  of  the  exaggeration,  one  could 

see  the  truth  underlying  it.  De  C was  quite  right ;  the 

mission  of  this  woman  is  to  disenchant  poets.  She  has  about 
her  an  atmosphere  of  prose  in  which  a  poetical  thought  can- 
not live. 

"  She  is  charming  and  sparkling  with  wit,  yet  beside  her 
one  thinks  only  of  base  and  vulgar  things.  While  speaking  to 
her  I  felt  a  crowd  of  desires  incongruous  and  impracticable  in 
the  place  where  I  was,  such  as  to  call  for  wine  and  get  drunk, 
to  place  her  on  one  of  my  knees  and  madly  kiss  her,  to  raise 
the  hem  of  her  skirt  and  see  whether  her  ankle  was  slender  or 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  85 

just  the  reverse,  to  sing  a  ribald  refrain  with  all  my  might, 
to  smoke  a  pipe,  or  to  break  the  windows — in  short,  to  do 
anything.  All  the  animal  part,  all  the  brute,  rose  within  me ; 
I  would  willingly  have  spat  on  the  Iliad  of  Homer ;  and  I 
would  have  gone  on  my  knees  to  a  ham.  I  can  now  quite 
understand  the  allegory  of  the  companions  of  Ulysses  being 
changed  into  swine  by  Circe.  Circe  was  probably  some  lively 
creature  like  my  little  woman  in  rose. 

"  Shameful  to  relate,  I  experienced  great  delight  in  feeling 
myself  overtaken  by  brutishness ;  I  made  no  resistance,  but 
assisted  it  as  much  as  I  could — so  natural  is  depravity  to  man, 
and  so  much  mire  is  there  in  the  clay  of  which  he  is  formed. 

"  Yet  for  one  moment  I  feared  the  canker  that  was  seizing 
upon  me,  and  wished  to  leave  my  corrupter;  but  the  floor 
seemed  to  have  risen  to  my  knees,  and  it  was  as  though  I  were 
set  fast  in  my  place. 

"  At  last  I  took  it  on  me  to  leave  her,  and,  the  evening  being 
far  advanced,  I  returned  home  much  perplexed  and  troubled, 
and  without  very  well  knowing  what  to  do.  I  hesitated 
between  the  prude  and  her  opposite.  I  found  voluptuousness 
in  one  and  piquancy  in  the  other,  and  after  a  most  minute  and 
searching  self-examination,  I  found,  not  that  I  loved  them 
both,  but  that  I  wished  sufficiently  for  them  both,  for  one  as 
much  as  for  the  other,  to  dream  about  them  and  be  preoccupied 
with  the  thought  of  them. 

"  To  all  appearance,  my  friend,  I  shall  gain  over  one  of  these 
women,  and  perhaps  both ;  and  yet  I  confess  to  you  that  the 
possession  of  them  will  only  half  satisfy  me.  It  is  not  that  they 
are  not  very  pretty,  but  at  sight  of  them  nothing  cried  out 
within  me,  nothing  panted,  nothing  said  :  '  It  is  they.'  I  did 
not  recognise  them.  Nevertheless,  I  do  not  think  that  I  shall 
meet  with  anything  much  better  so  far  as  birth  and  beauty  are 

concerned,  and  De  C advises  me  to  go  no  further.  I  shall 

certainly  take  his  advice,  and  one  or  other  of  them  will  be  my 
mistress,  or  the  devil  will  take  me  before  very  long ;  but  at  the 
bottom  of  my  heart  a  secret  voice  reproaches  me  for  being  false 
to  my  love,  and  for  stopping  thus  at  the  first  smile  of  a  woman 


86  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

for  whom  I  care  nothing,  instead  of  seeking  untiringly  through 
the  world,  in  cloisters  and  in  evil  places,  in  palaces  and  in 
taverns,  for  her  who,  whether  she  be  princess  or  serving-maid, 
nun  or  courtesan,  has  been  made  for  me  and  destined  to  me 
by  God. 

"  Then  I  say  to  myself  that  I  am  fancying  chimeras,  and  that 
it  is  after  all  just  the  same  whether  I  sleep  with  this  woman 
or  with  another ;  that  it  will  not  cause  the  earth  to  deviate  by 
a  hair's  breadth  from  its  path,  or  the  four  seasons  to  reverse 
their  order;  that  nothing  in  the  world  can  be  of  smaller 
moment ;  and  that  I  am  very  simple  to  torment  myself  with 
such  crotchets.  This  is  what  I  say  to  myself;  but  it  is  all  in 
vain !  I  am  not  moie  tranquil  nor  resolved  than  before. 

"  This,  perhaps,  results  from  the  fact  that  I  live  a  great  deal 
with  myself,  and  that  the  most  petty  details  in  a  life  so  mono- 
tonous as  mine  assume  too  great  an  importance.  I  pay  too 
much  attention  to  my  living  and  thinking.  I  hearken  to  the 
throbbing  of  my  arteries,  and  the  beatings  of  my  heart ;  by  dint 
of  close  attention  I  detach  my  most  fleeting  ideas  from  the 
cloudy  vapour  in  which  they  float,  and  give  them  a  body. 
If  I  acted  more  I  should  not  perceive  all  these  petty  things, 
and  I  should  not  have  time  to  be  looking  at  my  soul  through 
a  microscope,  as  I  do  the  whole  day  long.  The  noise  of 
action  would  put  to  flight  this  swarm  of  idle  thoughts  which 
flutter  through  my  heart,  and  stun  me  with  the  buzzing  of  their 
wings.  Instead  of  pursuing  phantoms  I  should  grapple  with 
realities ;  I  should  ask  from  women  only  what  they  can  give — 
pleasure ;  and  I  should  not  seek  to  embrace  some  fantastic 
ideal  attired  in  cloudy  perfections. 

"This  intense  straining  of  the  eye  of  my  soul  after  an 
invisible  object  has  distorted  my  vision.  I  cannot  see  what  is 
for  my  gazing  at  what  is  not ;  and  my  eye,  so  keen  for  the 
ideal,  is  perfectly  near-sighted  in  matters  of  reality.  Thus  I 
have  known  women  who  are  declared  charming  by  everybody, 
and  who  appear  to  me  to  be  anything  but  that.  I  have  greatly 
admired  pictures  generally  considered  bad,  and  odd  or  unintel- 
ligible verses  have  given  me  more  pleasure  than  the  most 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  87 

worthy  productions.  I  should  not  be  astonished  if,  after  offer- 
ing up  so  many  sighs  to  the  moon,  staring  so  often  at  the  stars, 
and  composing  so  many  elegies  and  sentimental  apostrophes, 
I  were  to  fall  in  love  with  some  vulgar  prostitute  or  some  ugly 
old  woman.  That  would  be  a  fine  downfall !  Reality  will 
perhaps  revenge  herselt  in  this  way  ior  the  carelessness  with 
which  I  have  courted  her.  Would  it  not  be  a  nice  thing  if  I 
were  to  be  smitten  with  a  fine  romantic  passion  for  some 
awkward  cross-patch  or  some  abominable  trollop  ?  Can  you 
see  me  playing  the  guitar  beneath  a  kitchen  window,  and 
ousted  by  a  scullion  carrying  the  pug  of  an  old  dowager  who 
is  getting  lid  of  her  last  tooth? 

"  Perhaps,  too,  finding  nothing  in  the  world  worthy  of  my 
love,  I  shall  end  by  adoring  myself,  like  the  late  Narcissus  of 
egotistical  memory.  To  secure  myself  against  so  great  a  mis- 
fortune, I  look  into  all  the  mirrors  and  all  the  brooks  that  1 
come  across.  In  truth,  with  my  reveries  and  aberrations,  I  am 
tremendously  afraid  of  falling  into  the  monstrous  or  unnatural. 
It  is  a  serious  matter,  and  I  must  take  care. 

"  Good-bye,  my  friend ;  I  am  going  directly  to  see  the  lady  in 
rose,  lest  I  should  give  myself  up  to  my  customary  meditations. 
I  do  not  think  that  we  pay  much  attention  to  entelechia,  and 
I  imagine  that  anything  we  may  do  will  have  no  connection  with 
spiritualism,  although  she  is  a  very  spiritual  creature  :  I  carefully 
roll  up  the  pattern  of  my  ideal  mistress,  and  put  it  away  in  a 
drawer,  that  I  may  not  use  it  as  a  test  with  her.  I  wish  to 
enjoy  peacefully  the  beauties  and  the  merits  that  she  possesses. 
I  wish  to  leave  her  attired  in  a  robe  that  suits  her,  without  trying 
to  adapt  for  her  the  vesture  that  I  have  cut  out  beforehand,  and 
at  all  hazards  for  the  lady  of  my  thoughts.  These  are  very 
wise  resolutions ;  I  do  not  know  whether  I  shall  keep  them 
Once  more,  good-bye." 


m. 


AM  the  established  lover  of  the  lady  m  rose;  it 
is  almost  a  calling  or  a  charge,  and  gives  one 
stability  in  society.  I  am  no  longer  like  a 
schoolboy  seeking  good  luck  among  the  grand- 
mothers, and  not  venturing  to  utter  a  madrigal  to  a  woman 
unless  she  is  a  centenarian.  I  perceive  that  since  my  installa- 
tion people  think  more  of  me,  that  all  the  women  speak  to  me 
with  jealous  coquetry,  and  put  themselves  very  much  about  on 
my  account  The  men,  on  the  contrary,  are  colder,  and  there 
is  something  of  hostility  and  constraint  in  the  few  words  that 
we  exchange.  They  feel  that  they  have  in  me  a  rival  who  is 
already  formidable,  and  who  may  become  more  so. 

"  I  have  been  told  that  many  of  them  had  criticised  my 
manner  of  dress  with  bitterness,  and  said  that  it  was  too 
effeminate;  that  my  hair  was  curled  and  glossed  with  over 
much  care;  that  this,  joined  to  my  beardless  face,  gave  me  the 
most  ridiculously  foppish  appearance ;  that  for  my  garments  I 
affected  rich  and  splendid  materials  which  had  the  odour  of 
the  theatre  about  them,  and  that  I  was  more  like  an  actor 
than  a  man — all  the  commonplaces  in  fact  that  people  utter 
in  order  to  give  themselves  the  right  of  being  dirty  and  of 
wearing  sorry  and  badly-cut  coats.  But  all  this  only 
serves  to  whitewash  me,  and  all  the  ladies  think  that  my 
hair  is  the  handsomest  in  the  world,  and  that  my  refinements 
in  dress  are  in  the  best  taste,  and  they  seem  very  much  in- 
clined to  indemnify  me  for  the  expense  I  have  gone  to  on 
their  account — for  they  are  not  so  foolish  as  to  believe  that 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  89 

all  this  elegance  is  merely  intended  for  my  own  personal 
adornment. 

"  The  lady  of  the  house  seemed  at  first  somewhat  piqued  by 
my  choice,  which  she  had  thought  must  of  necessity  have  fallen 
upon  herself,  and  for  a  few  days  she  harboured  some  bitterness 
on  account  of  it  (towards  her  rival  only;  for  she  has  always  spoken 
in  the  same  way  to  me),  which  manifested  itself  in  sundry  little 
'  My  dears,'  uttered  in  that  sharp,  jerky  manner  which  is  the  ex- 
clusive property  of  women,  and  in  sundry  unkind  opinions  re- 
specting her  toilet  given  in  as  loud  a  tone  as  possible,  such  as : 
'  Your  hair  is  dressed  a  great  deal  too  high,  and  does  not  suit 
your  face  in  the  least;'  or,  'Your  bodice  is  creased  under  the 
arms ;  whoever  made  that  dress  for  you  ?  '  or,  '  You  look  very 
wearied ;  you  seem  quite  changed  ; '  and  a  thousand  other  small 
observations,  to  which  the  other  failed  not  to  reply  when  an 
opportunity  presented  itself  with  all  the  malice  that  could  be 
desired ;  and  if  the  opportunity  did  not  come  soon  enough, 
she  herself  provided  one  for  her  own  use,  and  gave  back  more 
than  she  had  received.  But  another  object  diverting  the 
attention  of  the  slighted  Infanta,  this  little  wordy  war  soon 
came  to  an  end,  and  things  returned  to  their  usual  order. 

"  I  have  told  you  summarily  that  I  am  the  established  lover 
of  the  lady  in  rose,  but  that  is  not  enough  for  so  exact  a  man  as 
you.  You  will  no  doubt  ask  me  what  she  is  called.  As  to 
her  name,  I  will  not  tell  it  to  you ;  but  if  you  like,  to  facilitate 
the  narrative,  and  in  memory  of  the  colour  of  the  dress  in 
which  I  saw  her  for  the  first  time,  we  will  call  her  Rosette ;  it 
is  a  pretty  name,  and  it  was  thus  that  my  little  puss  was  called. 

"  You  will  wish  to  know  in  detail — for  you  love  precision  in 
matters  of  this  kind — the  history  of  our  loves  with  this  fair 
Bradamant,  and  by  what  successive  gradations  I  passed  from 
the  general  to  the  particular,  and  from  the  condition  of  simple 
spectator  to  that  of  actor ;  how  from  being  an  indifferent 
onlooker  I  have  become  a  lover.  I  will  gratify  your  wish 
with  the  greatest  pleasure.  There  is  nothing  sinister  in  our 
romance.  It  is  rose-coloured,  and  no  tears  are  shed  in  it  save 
those  of  pleasure  ;  no  delays  or  repetitions  are  to  be  met 

F 


90  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

with  in  it ;  and  everything  advances  towards  the  end  with  the 
haste  and  swiftness  so  strongly  recommended  by  Horace ;  it 
is  a  truly  French  romance. 

"  Nevertheless,  do  not  imagine  that  I  carried  the  fortress  at 
the  first  assault.  The  Princess,  though  very  humane  towards 
her  subjects,  is  not  so  lavish  of  her  favours  as  one  might 
think  at  first.  She  knows  the  value  of  them  too  well  not  to 
make  you  buy  them ;  and  she  further  knows  too  well  the 
eagerness  given  to  desire  by  apt  delay,  and  the  flavour  given 
to  pleasure  by  a  show  of  resistance,  to  surrender  herself  to  you 
all  at  once,  however  strong  the  liking  may  be  with  which  you 
have  inspired  her. 

"  To  tell  you  the  story  in  full  I  must  go  a  little  further  back. 
I  gave  you  a  sufficiently  circumstantial  narrative  of  our  first 
interview.  I  had  one  or  two  more  in  the  same  house,  or  per- 
haps three,  and  then  she  invited  me  to  go  and  see  her  ;  I  did 
not  wait  to  be  pressed,  as  you  may  well  believe ;  I  went  at 
first  with  discretion,  then  somewhat  oftener,  then  oftener  still, 
and  at  last  whenever  I  felt  so  inclined,  and  I  must  confess  that 
that  happened  at  least  three  or  four  times  a  day.  The  lady, 
after  a  few  hours'  absence,  always  received  me  as  if  I  had  just 
returned  from  the  East  Indies ;  I  was  very  sensible  of  this,  and 
it  obliged  me  to  show  my  gratitude  in  a  manner  marked  with 
the  greatest  gallantry  and  tenderness  in  the  world,  to  which 
she  responded  to  the  best  of  her  ability. 

"  Rosette,  since  we  have  agreed  to  call  her  so,  is  a  woman 
of  great  sense,  and  one  who  understands  men  admirably;  and 
although  she  delayed  the  conclusion  of  the  chapter  for  some 
time,  I  was  never  once  out  of  temper  with  her.  This  is  truly 
wonderful,  for  you  know  the  fine  passions  I  fall  into  when  I 
have  not  at  once  what  I  desire,  and  when  a  woman  exceeds  the 
time  that  I  have  assigned  her,  in  my  head,  for  her  surrender. 

"  I  do  not  know  how  she  managed  it,  but  from  the  first  in- 
terview she  gave  me  to  understand  that  she  would  be  mine,  and 
t  was  more  sure  of  it  than  if  I  had  had  the  promise  written 
and  signed  with  her  own  hand.  It  will  be  said,  perhaps,  that 
the  boldness  and  ease  of  her  manners  left  the  ground  clear 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUFiN.  91 

for  the  rashness  of  hopes.  I  do  not  think  that  this  can  be  the 
true  reason  :  I  have  seen  some  women  whose  extraordinary 
freedom  excluded  in  a  measure  the  very  shadow  of  a  doubt, 
who  have  yet  not  produced  this  effect  upon  me,  and  with 
whom  I  have  experienced  timidity  and  disquietude  when  they 
were  at  the  least  out  of  place. 

"  What  makes  me  much  less  amiable  with  the  women  whom 
I  wish  to  overcome  than  with  those  about  whom  I  am  un- 
concerned, is  the  passionate  waiting  for  the  opportunity,  and 
the  uncertainty  in  which  I  am  respecting  the  success  of  my 
undertaking  :  this  makes  me  gloomy,  and  throws  me  into  a 
delirium,  which  robs  me  of  many  of  my  talents  and  much  of  my 
presence  of  mind.  When  I  see  the  hours  which  I  had  destined 
for  a  different  employment  escaping  one  by  one,  anger  seizes 
me  in  spite  of  myself,  and  I  cannot  prevent  myself  from  say- 
ing very  sharp  and  bitter  things,  which  are  sometimes  even 
brutal,  and  which  throw  things  back  a  hundred  leagues. 
With  Rosette  I  felt  nothing  of  all  this ;  never,  even  when 
she  was  resisting  me  the  most,  had  I  the  idea  that  she  wished 
to  escape  my  love.  I  allowed  her  quietly  to  display  all  her 
little  coquetries,  and  I  endured  with  patience  the  somewhat 
long  delays  which  it  pleased  her  to  inflict  on  my  ardour.  Her 
severity  had  something  smiling  in  it  which  consoled  you  as 
much  as  possible,  and  in  her  most  Hyrcanian  cruelties  you 
had  a  glimpse  of  a  background  of  humanity  which  hardly 
allowed  you  to  have  any  serious  fear. 

"  Virtuous  women,  even  when  they  are  least  so,  have  a  cross 
and  disdainful  appearance  which  to  me  is  intolerable.  They 
always  look  as  if  they  were  ready  to  ring  the  bell  and  have  you 
kicked  out  of  the  house  by  their  lackeys ;  and  I  really  think 
that  a  man  who  takes  the  trouble  to  pay  his  addresses  to  a 
woman  (which  as  it  is,  is  not  so  agreeable  as  one  would  fain 
believe)  does  not  deserve  to  be  looked  at  in  that  way. 

"  Our  dear  Rosette  has  no  such  looks — and,  I  assure  you, 
that  it  is  to  her  advantage.  She  is  the  only  woman  with  whom 
I  have  been  myself,  and  I  have  the  conceit  to  say  that  I  have 
•never  been  so  good.  My  wit  is  freely  displayed,  and  by  the 


92  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

dexterity  and  the  fire  of  her  replies  she  has  made  me  discover 
more  than  I  credited  myself  with,  and  more,  perhaps,  than  I 
really  have.  It  is  true  that  I  have  not  been  very  logical ;  that 
is  scarcely  possible  with  her.  It  is  not,  however,  that  she  has 

not  her  poetical  side,  in  spite  of  what  De  C said  about  it; 

but  she  is  so  full  of  life,  and  force,  and  movement,  she  seems 
so  well  off  in  the  atmosphere  in  which  she  is,  that  one  has  no 
wish  to  leave  it  in  order  to  ascend  into  the  clouds.  She  fills 
real  life  so  agreeably,  and  makes  such  an  amusing  thing  of  it 
for  herself  and  others,  that  dreamland  has  nothing  better  to 
offer  you. 

"What  a  wonderful  thing!  I  have  known  her  now  for 
nearly  two  months,  and  during  that  time  I  have  felt  weary  only 
when  I  was  not  with  her.  You  will  acknowledge  that  it  is  no 
ordinary  woman  that  can  produce  such  an  effect,  for  usually 
women  produce  just  the  reverse  effect  upon  me,  and  please  me 
much  more  at  a  distance  than  when  close  at  hand. 

"  Rosette  has  the  best  disposition  in  the  world,  with  men, 
be  it  understood,  for  with  women  she  is  as  wicked  as  a  devil. 
She  is  gay,  lively,  alert,  ready  for  everything,  very  original  in 
her  way  of  speaking,  and  always  with  some  charming  and  un- 
expected drolleries  to  say  to  you.  She  is  a  delicious  com- 
panion, a  pretty  comrade  whom  one  is  fond  of,  rather  than  a 
mistress,  and  if  I  had  a  few  years  more  and  a  few  romantic 
ideas  less,  it  would  be  all  one  to  me,  and  I  should  even 
esteem  myself  the  most  fortunate  mortal  in  existence.  But — 
but — a  particle  which  announces  nothing  good,  and  this  little 
limiting  devil  of  a  word  is  unfortunately  more  used  than  any 
other  in  all  human  languages  ; — but  I  am  a  fool,  an  idiot,  a 
veritable  ninny  who  can  be  satisfied  with  nothing,  and  who  is 
always  conjuring  up  difficulties  where  none  exist,  and  I  am 
only  half  happy  instead  of  being  wholly  so.  Half  is  a  good 
deal  for  this  world  of  ours,  and  yet  I  do  not  find  it  enough. 

"  In  the  eyes  of  all  the  world  I  have  a  mistress  whom  many 
wish  for  and  envy  me,  and  whom  no  one  would  disdain.  My 
desire  is  therefore  apparently  fulfilled,  and  I  have  no  longer 
any  right  to  pick  quarrels  with  fate.  Yet  I  do  not  seem  to 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  93 

have  a  mistress ;  I  understand  by  reasoning  that  such  is  the 
case,  but  I  do  not  feel  it  to  be  so,  and  if  some  one  were  to 
ask  me  unexpectedly  whether  I  had  one,  I  believe  I  should 
answer  '  No.'  Nevertheless,  the  possession  of  a  woman  who  has 
beauty  and  wit  constitutes  what  at  all  times  and  in  all  lands 
has  been  and  is  called  having  a  mistress,  and  I  do  not  think 
that  any  other  mode  exists.  This  does  not  prevent  me  from 
having  the  strangest  doubts  on  the  subject,  and  it  has  gone  so 
far  that  if  several  persons  were  to  conspire  to  affirm  to  me  that 
I  am  not  Rosette's  favoured  lover,  I  should,  in  spite  of  the 
palpable  evidence  to  the  contrary,  end  by  believing  them. 

"  Do  not  imagine  from  what  I  have  told  you  that  I  do  not 
love  her,  or  that  she  displeases  me  in  any  way.  On  the 
contrary,  I  love  her  very  much,  and  I  find  her,  as  all  the  rest 
of  the  world  will  find  her,  a  pretty,  piquant  creature.  I  simply 
do  not  feel  that  she  is  mine,  and  that  is  all.  And  yet  no  woman 
has  ever  made  herself  more  engaging,  and  if  ever  I  have  under- 
stood what  voluptuousness  is,  it  was  in  her  arms.  A  single 
kiss  from  her,  the  chastest  of  her  endearments,  makes  me 
quiver  to  the  soles  of  my  feet,  and  sends  all  my  blood  flowing 
back  to  my  heart.  Account  for  all  this  if  you  can.  It  is  just 
as  I  tell  you.  But  the  heart  of  man  is  full  of  such  absurdities, 
and  if  it  were  necessary  to  reconcile  all  its  contradictions,  we 
should  have  enough  to  do. 

"  What  can  be  the  origin  of  this  ?     In  truth  I  do  not  know. 

"  I  see  her  the  whole  day,  and  even  the  whole  night  if  I 
wish.  I  give  her  all  the  caresses  that  I  please  when  we  are  by 
ourselves  both  in  town  or  in  the  country.  Her  complaisance 
is  inexhaustible,  and  she  enters  thoroughly  into  all  my  caprices, 
however  whimsical  they  may  be.  One  evening  I  was  seized  with 
a  fancy  to  roughly  fondle  her  in  the  drawing-room,  with  the  lustre 
and  candles  lighted,  a  fire  on  the  hearth,  the  easy  chairs 
arranged  as  if  for  a  great  evening  reception,  she  dressed  for  a 
ball  with  her  bouquet  and  fan,  all  her  diamonds  on  her  fingers 
and  neck,  plumes  on  her  head,  and  in  the  most  splendid 
costume  possible,  while  I  myself  was  dressed  like  a  bear.  She 
consented  to  my  whim.  When  all  was  ready  the  servants  were 


94  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

greatly  surprised  to  receive  an  order  not  to  allow  anybody  to 
come  up  ;  they  did  not  seem  to  understand  it  in  the  least,  and 
they  went  off  with  a  dazed  look  which  made  us  laugh  greatly 
Without  doubt  they  thought  that  their  mistress  was  distinctly 
mad,  but  what  they  did  or  did  not  think  was  of  little  moment 
to  us. 

"  It  was  the  drollest  evening  of  my  life.  Imagine  to  yourself 
the  appearance  I  must  have  presented  with  my  plumed  hat 
under  my  paw,  rings  on  all  my  claws,  a  little  sword  with  a  silver 
guard,  and  a  sky-blue  ribbon  at  the  hilt.  I  approached  the 
fair  one,  and  after  making  her  a  most  graceful  bow,  seated 
myself  by  her  side,  and  laid  siege  to  her  in  all  due  form.  The 
affected  madrigals,  the  exaggerated  gallantries  which  I  ad- 
dressed to  her,  all  the  jargon  of  the  occasion  was  singularly 
set  off  by  passing  through  my  bear's  muzzle,  for  I  had  a  superb 
head  of  painted  cardboard,  which,  however,  I  was  soon  obliged 
to  throw  under  the  table,  so  adorable  was  my  deity  that  even* 
ing,  and  so  greatly  did  I  long  to  kiss  her  hand,  and  something 
better  than  her  hand.  The  skin  followed  close  on  the  head, 
for,  not  being  accustomed  to  play  the  bear,  I  was  greatly  stifled 
in  it  and  more  so  than  was  necessary. 

"  The  ball  costume  had  then  a  fine  time  of  it,  as  you  may 
believe  ;  the  plumes  fell  like  snow  around  my  beauty,  her 
round  white  shoulders  were  scarcely  confined  by  the  sleeves, 
her  bosom  heaved  above  her  corset,  her  feet  emerged  from  her 
shoes.  The  necklaces  became  unstrung,  and  rolled  on  the 
floor,  and  I  think  that  never  was  more  fresh  a  dress  more 
piteously  crushed  and  rumpled ;  the  dress  was  of  silver  gauze, 
with  a  lining  of  white  satin.  Rosette  displayed  on  this  occa- 
sion a  heroism  which  was  quite  beyond  that  of  her  sex,  and 
which  gave  me  the  highest  opinion  of  her.  She  looked  on  at 
the  wreck  of  her  toilet  as  though  she  were  a  disinterested 
spectator,  and  not  for  a  single  instant  did  she  show  the  least 
regret  for  her  dress  and  her  laces ;  on  the  contrary,  she  was 
madly  gay,  and  even  assisted  herself  in  the  ill-treatment 
to  which  her  finery  was  subjected  by  me  at  the  height  of 
my  frenzy. 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  95 

"  Do  you  not  think  this  fine  enough  to  be  recorded  in  history 
beside  the  most  splendid  deeds  of  the  heroes  of  antiquity? 
The  greatest  proof  of  love  that  a  woman  can  give  her  lover  is 
not  to  say  to  him  :  'Take  care  not  to  rumple  me  or  stain  me,' 
especially  if  her  dress  is  new.  A  new  dress  is  a  stronger 
motive  for  a  husband's  security  than  is  commonly  believed. 
Rosette  must  worship  me,  or  she  possesses  a  philosophy 
superior  to  that  of  Epictetus. 

"  However,  I  think  that  I  paid  Rosette  the  worth  of  her 
dress  in  caresses — a  coin  which  is  not  the  less  esteemed  and 
prized  that  it  does  not  pass  current  with  the  shopkeepers. 
So  much  heroism  as  she  displayed  well  deserved  a  reward, 
and,  like  a  generous  woman,  she  well  repaid  what  I  be- 
stowed on  her.  I  experienced  a  mad  delight,  such  as  I  did 
not  believe  myself  capable  of  feeling.  Those  sounding 
kisses  mingled  with  piercing  laughs,  those  quivering  and 
impatient  caresses,  all  that  irritating  enjoyment,  that  incom- 
plete pleasure,  a  hundred  times  keener  than  if  it  had  been 
without  impediment,  had  such  an  effect  upon  my  nerves  that 
I  was  seized  with  acute  spasms,  from  which  I  recovered  with 
difficulty. 

"  You  cannot  imagine  the  tender  and  proud  air  with  which 
Rosette  looked  at  me,  and  the  manner,  full  of  joy  and  dis- 
quietude, in  which  she  busied  herself  about  me.  Her  face 
still  radiated  the  pleasure  which  she  felt  at  producing  such  an 
effect  upon  me,  while  at  the  same  time  her  eyes,  bathed  in 
gentle  tears,  bore  witness  to  the  fear  that  she  experienced  at 
seeing  me  ill,  and  the  interest  that  she  took  in  my  health. 
Never  has  she  appeared  to  me  so  beautiful  as  she  did  at  that 
moment.  There  was  something  so  maternal  and  so  chaste  in 
her  look,  that  I  totally  forgot  the  more  than  Anacreonic  scene 
which  had  just  taken  place,  and,  kneeling  before  her,  asked 
permission  to  kiss  her  hand.  This  she  granted  me  with 
singular  gravity  and  dignity. 

"  Assuredly  such  a  woman  is  not  so  depraved  as  De  C • 

pretends,  and  as  she  has  often  seemed  to  myself.     Her  corrup- 
tion is  of  the  mind,  and  not  of  the  heart 


96  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

"  I  have  quoted  this  scene  to  you  from  among  twenty  others, 
and  it  seems  to  me  that  after  this  a  man  might,  without  extreme 
conceit,  believe  himself  to  be  a  woman's  lover.  Well,  it  is 
what  I  do  not  do.  I  had  scarcely  returned  home  when  the 
same  thought  again  took  possession  of  me,  and  began  to 
torment  me  as  usual.  I  remembered  perfectly  all  that  I  had 
done  and  seen  done.  The  most  trivial  gestures  and  attitudes, 
all  the  most  petty  details,  were  very  clearly  delineated  in  my 
memory;  I  recalled  everything,  to  the  lightest  inflections  of 
voice  and  the  most  fleeting  shades  of  enjoyment;  and  yet  I 
did  not  seem  to  realize  that  all  these  things  had  happened  to 
myself  rather  than  to  another.  I  was  not  sure  that  it  was  not 
an  illusion,  a  phantasmagoria,  a  dream,  or  that  I  had  not  read 
it  somewhere,  or  even  that  it  was  not  a  tale  composed  by 
myself,  just  as  similar  ones  had  often  been  made  by  me.  I 
was  afraid  of  being  the  dupe  of  my  own  credulity  and  the  butt  of 
some  hoax;  and  in  spite  of  the  witness  borne  by  my  lassitude, 
and  the  material  proofs  that  I  had  slept  elsewhere,  I  would 
have  been  ready  to  believe  that  I  had  put  myself  under  my 
bedclothes  at  my  usual  time,  and  had  slept  till  morning. 

"  I  am  very  unfortunate  in  not  having  the  capacity  to  acquire 
the  moral  certainty  of  a  thing,  the  physical  certainty  of  which  I 
possess.  Generally  the  reverse  happens,  and  it  is  the  fact  that 
proves  the  idea.  I  would  fain  prove  the  fact  to  myself  by  the 
idea ;  I  cannot  do  so ;  though  this  is  singular  enough,  it  is  the 
case.  The  possession  of  a  mistress  depends  upon  myself  up  to 
a  certain  point,  but  I  cannot  bring  myself  to  believe  that  I  have 
one  while  having  her  ail  the  time.  If  I  have  not  the  necessary 
faith  within  me,  even  for  something  so  evident  as  this,  it  is  as 
impossible  for  me  to  believe  in  so  simple  a  fact  as  it  is  for 
another  to  believe  in  the  Trinity.  Faith  is  not  acquired ;  it  is 
purely  a  gift,  a  special  grace  from  Heaven. 

"  Never  has  any  one  desired  so  strongly  as  myself  to  live  the 
life  of  others,  and  to  assimilate  another  nature ;  never  has  any 
one  succeeded  less  in  doing  so.  Whatever  I  may  do,  other 
men  are  to  me  scarcely  anything  but  phantoms,  and  I  have  no 
sense  of  their  existence ;  yet  it  is  not  the  desire  to  recognise 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  97 

their  life  and  to  participate  in  it  that  is  wanting  in  me.  It  is 
the  power,  or  the  lack  of  real  sympathy  for  anything.  The 
existence  or  non-existence  of  a  thing  or  person  does  not 
interest  me  sufficiently  to  affect  me  in  a  sensible  and  con- 
vincing manner. 

"  The  sight  of  a  woman  or  a  man  who  appears  to  me  in  real 
life  leaves  no  stronger  traces  upon  my  soul  than  the  fantastic 
vision  of  a  dream.  About  me  there  moves,  with  dull  humming 
sound,  a  pale  world  of  shadows  and  semblances  false  or  true, 
in  the  midst  of  which  I  am  as  isolated  as  possible,  for  none  of 
them  acts  on  me  for  good  or  evil,  and  they  seem  to  me  to  be 
of  quite  a  different  nature.  If  I  speak  to  them,  and  they  reply 
to  me  with  something  like  common-sense,  I  am  as  much  sur- 
prised as  if  my  dog  or  my  cat  were  suddenly  to  begin  to  speak 
and  mingle  in  the  conversation.  The  sound  of  their  voice 
always  astonishes  me,  and  I  would  be  very  ready  to  believe 
that  they  are  merely  fleeting  appearances  whose  objective 
mirror  I  am.  Inferior  or  superior,  I  am  certainly  not  of  their 
kind. 

"  There  are  moments  when  I  recognise  none  save  God 
above  me,  and  others,  when  I  judge  myself  scarcely  the  equal 
of  the  wood-louse  beneath  its  stone,  or  the  mollusc  on  its  sand- 
bank ;  but  in  whatever  state  of  mind  I  may  be,  whether  lofty 
or  depressed,  I  have  never  been  able  to  persuade  myself  that 
men  were  really  my  fellows.  When  people  call  me  '  Sir,'  or  in 
speaking  about  me,  say,  '  this  man,'  it  appears  very  singular  to 
me.  Even  my  name  seems  to  me  but  an  empty  one,  and  not 
in  reality  mine,  yet  no  matter  in  how  low  a  tone  it  be  pro- 
nounced amidst  the  loudest  noise,  I  turn  suddenly  with  a  con- 
vulsive and  feverish  eagerness  for  which  I  have  never  been 
able  to  account  to  myself.  Can  it  be  the  dread  of  finding  in 
this  man  who  knows  my  name,  and  to  whom  I  am  no  longer 
one  of  the  crowd,  an  antagonist  or  an  enemy? 

"It  is  especially  when  I  have  been  living  with  a  woman 
that  I  have  most  felt  the  invincible  repugnance  of  my  nature 
to  any  alliance  or  mixture.  I  am  like  a  drop  of  oil  in  a  glass 
of  water.  It  is  in  vain  that  you  turn  and  move  the  latter ;  the 


98  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

oil  can  never  unite  with  it  It  will  divide  itself  into  a  hundred 
thousand  little  globules  which  will  reunite  and  mount  again  to 
the  surface  as  soon  as  there  is  a  moment's  calm.  The  drop  of 
oil  and  the  glass  of  water — such  is  my  history.  Even  volup- 
tuousness, that  diamond  chain  which  binds  all  creatures 
together,  that  devouring  fire  which  melts  the  rocks  and  metals 
of  the  soul,  and  makes  them  fall  in  tears,  as  material  fire  causes 
iron  and  granite  to  melt,  has  never,  all  powerful  as  it  is,  suc- 
ceeded in  taming  and  affecting  me.  Yet  my  senses  are  very 
keen,  but  my  soul  is  to  my  body  a  hostile  sister,  and  the  hap- 
less couple,  like  every  possible  couple,  lawful  or  unlawful,  live 
in  a  state  of  perpetual  war.  A  woman's  arms,  the  closest  bonds 
on  earth,  so  people  say,  are  very  feeble  ties,  so  far  as  I  am 
concerned,  and  I  have  never  been  further  removed  from  my 
mistress  than  when  she  was  pressing  me  to  her  heart.  I  was 
stifled,  that  was  all. 

"  How  many  times  have  I  been  angered  with  myself!  How 
many  efforts  have  I  made  not  to  be  as  I  am !  How  have  I 
exhorted  myself  to  be  tender,  amorous,  impassioned !  How 
often  have  I  taken  my  soul  by  the  hair,  and  dragged  her  to  my 
lips  in  the  midst  of  a  beautiful  kiss !  Whatever  I  did  she 
always  retreated  as  soon  as  I  released  her.  What  torture  for 
this  poor  soul  to  be  exposed  to  these  mad  caprices  of  mine,  and 
to  sit  everlastingly  at  banquets  where  she  has  nothing  to  eat ! 

"  It  was  with  Rosette  that  I  resolved,  once  for  all,  to  try 
whether  I  was  not  decidedly  unsociable,  and  whether  I  could 
take  sufficient  interest  in  the  existence  of  another  to  believe 
in  it.  I  pushed  my  experiments  to  the  point  of  exhaustion, 
and  I  did  not  become  much  clearer  amid  my  doubts.  With 
her,  pleasure  is  so  keen  that  often  enough  the  soul  is,  if  not 
moved,  at  least  diverted,  and  this  somewhat  prejudices  the 
exactness  of  my  observations.  But  after  all  I  came  to  see 
that  it  did  not  pass  beyond  the  skin,  and  that  I  had  only  an 
epidermic  enjoyment  in  which  the  soul  took  no  part  save  from 
curiosity.  I  have  pleasure,  because  I  am  young  and  ardent ; 
but  this  pleasure  comes  to  me  from  myself  and  not  from 
another.  The  cause  of  it  is  in  myself  rather  than  in  Rosette. 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  99 

| 

"  My  efforts  are  in  vain,  I  cannot  come  out  of  myself.    I  am 

still  what  I  was,  something,  that  is  to  say,  very  wearied  and 
very  wearisome,  and  this  displeases  rne  greatly.  I  have  not 
succeeded  in  getting  into  my  brain  the  idea  of  another,  into  my 
soul  the  feeling  of  another,  into  my  body  the  pain  or  joy  of 
another.  I  am  a  prisoner  within  myself,  and  all  invasion  is 
impossible.  The  prisoner  wishes  to  escape,  the  walls  would 
most  gladly  fall  in,  and  the  gates  open  up  to  let  him  through, 
but  some  fatality  or  other  invincibly  keeps  each  stone  in  its 
place,  and  each  bolt  in  its  socket  It  is  as  impossible  for 
me  to  admit  any  one  to  see  me  as  it  is  for  me  to  go  to  see 
others,  I  can  neither  pay  visits  nor  receive  them,  and  I 
live  in  the  most  mournful  isolation  in  the  midst  of  the 
crowd.  My  bed  perhaps  is  not  widowed,  but  my  heart  is  so 
always. 

"  Ah  !  to  be  unable  to  increase  one's  self  by  a  single  particle, 
a  single  atom ;  to  be  unable  to  make  the  blood  of  others  flow 
in  one's  veins ;  to  see  ever  with  one's  own  eyes,  and  not  more 
clearly,  nor  further,  nor  differently ;  to  hear  sounds  with  the 
same  ears  and  the  same  emotion;  to  touch  with  the  same 
fingers;  to  perceive  things  that  are  varied  with  an  organ 
that  is  invariable ;  to  be  condemned  to  the  same  quality  of 
voice,  to  the  return  of  the  same  tones,  the  same  phrases,  and 
the  same  words,  and  to  be  unable  to  go  away,  to  avoid  one's  self, 
to  take  refuge  in  some  corner  where  there  is  no  self-pursuit ; 
to  be  obliged  to  keep  one's  self  always,  to  dine  with  it,  and  go 
to  bed  with  it ;  to  be  the  same  man  for  twenty  new  women ; 
to  drag  into  the  midst  of  the  strangest  situations  in  the  drama 
of  our  life  a  reluctant  character  whose  rble  you  know  by  heart ; 
to  think  the  same  things,  and  to  have  the  same  dreams  :  what 
torment,  what  weariness ! 

"  I  have  longed  for  the  horn  of  the  brothers  Tangut,  the  cap 
of  Fortunatus,  the  staff  of  Abaris,  the  ring  of  Gyges  ;  I  would 
have  sold  my  soul  to  snatch  the  magic  wand  from  the  hand  of 
a  fairy ;  but  I  have  never  wished  so  much  for  anything  as,  like 
Tiresias  the  soothsayer,  to  meet  on  the  mountain  the  serpents 
which  cause  a  chancre  of  sex :  and  what  I  envy  most  in  the 


ioo  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

monstrous  and  whimsical  gods  of  India  are  theit  perpetual 
avatars  and  their  countless  transformations. 

"  I  began  by  desiring  to  be  another  man ;  then,  on  reflect- 
ing that  I  might  by  analogy  nearly  foresee  what  I  should  feel, 
and  thus  not  experience  the  surprise  and  the  change  that  I  had 
looked  for,  I  would  have  preferred  to  be  a  woman.  This  idea 
has  always  come  to  me  when  I  had  a  mistress  who  was  not 
ugly — for  to  me  an  ugly  woman  is  simply  a  man — and  at 
particular  moments  I  would  willingly  have  changed  my  part, 
for  it  is  very  provoking  to  be  unaware  of  the  effect  that  one 
produces,  and  to  judge  of  the  enjoyment  of  others  only  by 
one's  own.  These  thoughts,  and  many  others,  have  often 
given  me,  at  times  when  it  was  most  out  of  place,  a  meditative 
and  dreamy  air,  which  has  led  to  my  being  accused,  really 
most  undeservedly,  of  coldness  and  infidelity. 

"  Rosette,  who  very  happily  does  not  know  all  this,  believes 
me  the  most  amorous  man  on  earth  ;  she  takes  this  impotent 
transport  for  a  transport  of  passion ;  and  to  the  best  of  her 
ability  she  lends  herself  to  all  the  experimental  caprices  that 
enter  my  head. 

"  I  have  done  all  that  I  could  to  convince  myself  that  I 
possess  her.  I  have  tried  to  descend  into  her  heart,  but  I 
have  always  stopped  at  the  first  step  of  the  staircase,  at  her 
skin  or  on  her  mouth.  In  spite  of  the  particular  intimacy  of 
our  relations,  I  am  very  sensible  that  there  is  nothing  in 
common  between  us.  Never  has  an  idea  similar  to  mine 
spread  its  wings  in  that  young  and  smiling  head ;  never  has 
that  heart,  full  of  life  and  fire,  that  heaves  with  its  throbbing 
so  firm  and  pure  a  breast,  beaten  in  unison  with  my  heart. 
My  soul  has  never  united  with  that  soul.  Cupid,  the  god  with 
hawk's  wings,  has  not  kissed  Psyche  on  her  beautiful  ivory 
brow.  No  !  this  woman  does  not  belong  to  me. 

"  If  you  knew  all  that  I  have  done  to  compel  my  soul  to 
share  in  the  love  of  my  body,  the  frenzy  with  which  I  have 
plunged  my  mouth  into  hers,  and  steeped  my  arms  in  her  hair, 
and  how  closely  I  have  strained  her  round  and  supple  form  \ 
Like  the  ancient  Salmacis  enamoured  of  the  young  Her- 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAD  PIN.  101 

maphrodite,  I  strove  to  blend  her  frame  with  mine ;  I  drank 
her  breath  and  the  tepid  tears  caused  by  voluptuousness  to 
overflow  from  the  brimming  chalice  of  her  eyes.  The  more 
she  drew  me  towards  her,  and  the  closer  our  embraces,  the 
less  I  loved  her.  My  soul,  seated  mournfully,  gazed  with  an 
air  of  pity  on  this  lamentable  marriage  to  which  she  was  not 
invited,  or  veiling  her  face  in  disgust,  wept  silently  beneath 
the  skirt  of  her  cloak.  All  this  comes  perhaps  from  the  fact 
that  in  reality  I  do  not  love  Rosette,  worthy  as  she  is  of  being 
loved,  and  wishful  as  I  am  to  love  her. 

"  To  get  rid  of  the  idea  that  I  was  myself,  I  devised  very 
strange  surroundings,  in  which  it  was  altogether  improbable 
that  I  would  encounter  myself,  and  not  being  able  to  cast 
my  individuality  to  the  dogs,  I  endeavoured  to  place  it  in 
such  a  different  element  that  it  would  recognise  itself  no 
longer.  I  had  but  indifferent  success,  and  this  devil  of  a  self 
pursues  me  obstinately ;  there  are  no  means  of  getting  rid  of 
it.  I  cannot  resort  to  telling  it  like  other  intruders  that  I  am 
out,  or  that  I  have  gone  to  the  country. 

"  When  my  mistress  has  been  in  her  bath,  I  have  tried  to  play 
the  Triton.  The  sea  was  a  very  large  tub  of  marble.  As  to  the 
Nereid,  what  was  seen  of  her  accused  the  water,  all  transparent 
as  it  was,  of  not  being  sufficiently  so  for  the  exquisite  beauty  of 
what  it  concealed.  I  have  been  with  her,  too,  at  night  by  the 
light  of  the  moon  in  a  gondola  accompanied  by  music. 

"  This  would  be  common  enough  at  Venice,  but  it  is  not  at 
all  so  here.  In  her  carriage,  flying  along  at  full  gallop,  amid 
the  noise  of  the  wheels,  with  leaps  and  joltings,  now  lit  up  by 
the  lamps,  and  now  plunged  into  the  most  profound  darkness,  I 
have  loaded  her  with  caresses  and  found  a  pleasure  therein 
which  I  advise  you  taste.  But  I  was  forgetting  that  you  are 
a  venerable  patriarch,  and  that  you  do  not  go  in  for  such 
refinements.  I  have  come  into  her  house  through  the  window 
with  the  key  of  the  door  in  my  pocket.  I  have  made  her 
come  to  me  at  noon-day ;  and,  in  short,  I  have  compromised 
her  in  such  a  fashion  that  nobody  now  (myself,  of  course, 
excepted)  has  any  doubt  that  she  is  my  mistress. 


102  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

"  By  reason  of  all  these  devices,  which,  if  I  were  not  so 
young,  would  look  like  the  expedients  of  a  worn-out  libertine, 
Rosette  worships  me  chiefly  and  above  all  others.  She  sees 
in  them  the  eagerness  of  a  petulant  love  which  nothing  can 
restrain,  and  which  is  the  same  notwithstanding  the  diversity 
of  times  and  places.  She  sees  in  them  the  constantly  reviving 
effect  of  her  charms,  and  the  triumph  of  her  beauty ;  truly,  I 
wish  that  she  were  right,  and  to  be  just,  it  is  neither  my  fault 
nor  hers  that  she  is  not 

"  The  only  respect  in  which  I  wrong  her  is  that  I  am  my- 
self. If  I  were  to  tell  her  this,  the  child  would  very  quickly 
reply  that  it  is  just  my  greatest  merit  in  her  eyes ;  which  would 
be  more  kind  than  sensible. 

"  Once — it  was  at  the  beginning  of  our  union — I  believed 
that  I  had  attained  my  end,  for  one  minute  I  believed  that 
I  had  loved — I  did  love.  Oh  !  my  friend,  I  have  never  lived 
save  during  that  minute,  and  had  that  minute  been  an  hour 
I  should  have  become  a  god.  We  had  both  gone  out  on 
horseback,  I  on  my  dear  Ferragus,  she  on  a  mare  as  white  as 
snow,  and  with  the  look  of  a  unicorn,  so  slim  were  its  legs 
and  so  slender  its  neck.  We  were  following  a  large  avenue 
of  elms  of  prodigious  height;  the  sun  was  descending  upon 
us  lukewarm  and  golden,  sifted  through  the  slashings  in  the 
foliage ;  lozenges  of  ultramarine  sparkled  here  and  there 
through  the  dappled  clouds,  great  lines  of  pale  blue  strewed 
the  edge  of  the  horizon,  changing  into  an  apple-green  of 
exquisite  tenderness  when  they  met  with  the  orange-coloured 
tints  of  the  west.  The  aspect  of  the  heavens  was  charming 
and  strange ;  the  breeze  brought  to  us  an  odour  of  wild 
flowers  that  was  ravishing  in  the  extreme.  From  time  to- 
time  a  bird  rose  before  us,  and  crossed  the  avenue  singing. 

"  The  bell  of  a  village  that  was  not  visible  was  gently  ringing 
the  Angelus,  and  the  silver  sounds,  which  reached  us  weakened 
by  the  distance,  were  infinitely  sweet.  Our  animals  were  at  a 
walk,  and  were  going  so  equally  side  by  side,  that  one  was  not 
in  advance  of  the  other.  My  heart  expanded,  and  my  soul 
overflowed  my  body.  I  had  never  been  so  happy.  I  said 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  103 

nothing,  nor  did  Rosette,  and  yet  we  had  never  understood 
each  other  so  well.  We  were  so  close  together  that  my  leg 
was  touching  the  body  of  Rosette's  horse.  I  leaned  over  to  her, 
and  passed  my  arm  about  her  waist ;  she  made  the  same  move- 
ment on  her  side,  and  laid  back  her  head  upon  my  shoulder. 
Our  lips  clung  together ;  oh  !  what  a  chaste  and  delicious 
kiss  !  Our  horses  were  still  walking  with  their  bridles  floating 
sn  their  necks.  I  felt  Rosette's  arm  relax,  and  her  loins  yield 
more  and  more.  For  myself  I  was  growing  weak,  and  was 
ready  to  swoon.  Ah  !  I  can  assure  you  that  at  that  moment 
I  thought  little  of  whether  I  was  myself  or  another.  We 
went  thus  as  far  as  the  end  of  the  avenue,  when  the  noise  of 
feet  made  us  abruptly  resume  our  positions  ;  it  was  some  people 
of  our  acquaintance,  also  on  horseback,  who  came  up  and  spoke 
to  us.  If  I  had  had  pistols,  I  believe  that  I  should  have  fired 
upon  them. 

"  I  looked  at  them  with  a  gloomy  and  furious  air,  which 
must  have  appeared  very  singular  to  them.  After  all,  I  was 
wrong  to  become  so  angry  with  them,  for  they  had,  without 
intending  it,  done  me  the  service  of  interrupting  my  pleasure 
at  the  very  moment  when,  by  reason  of  its  own  intensity,  it 
was  on  the  point  of  becoming  a  pain,  or  of  sinking  beneath 
its  own  violence.  The  science  of  stopping  in  time  is  not 
regarded  with  all  the  respect  which  is  its  due.  Sometimes 
when  toying  with  a  woman  you  pass  your  arm  around  her 
waist ;  it  is  at  first  most  voluptuous  to  feel  the  gentle  warmth  of 
her  frame,  to  come  almost  in  contact  with  her  soft  and  velvety 
flesh,  the  polished  ivory  of  her  skin,  and  to  watch  the  heaving 
of  her  swelling  and  quivering  breast.  The  fair  one  falls  asleep 
in  this  amorous  and  charming  position ;  the  curve  of  her  body 
becomes  less  pronounced,  her  breast  becomes  calm ;  her 
sides  heave  with  the  larger  and  more  regular  respiration  of 
sleep  ;  her  muscles  relax,  her  head  rolls  over  in  her  hair. 

"  Your  arm,  however,  is  pressed  more  than  before,  and  you 
begin  to  perceive  that  it  is  a  woman  and  not  a  sylphid ;  yet 
you  would  not  take  away  your  arm  for  anything  in  the  world, 
and  for  this  there  are  many  reasons.  First,  it  is  rather 


io4  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

dangerous  to  awake  a  woman  who  has  fallen  asleep  beside 
you;  you  must  be  prepared  to  substitute  for  the  delicious 
dream  that  she  has  been  having  a  reality  more  delicious 
still  Secondly,  by  asking  her  to  raise  herself  that  you  may 
withdraw  your  arm,  you  tell  her  indirectly  that  she  is  heavy 
and  in  your  way,  which  is  not  polite,  or  perhaps  you  give  her 
to  understand  that  you  are  weak  or  fatigued — a  most  humiliat- 
ing thing  for  you,  and  one  which  will  prejudice  you  infinitely 
in  her  mind.  Thirdly,  you  believe  that  as  you  have  experienced 
pleasure  in  this  position,  you  may  do  so  again  by  maintaining 
it,  and  in  this  you  are  mistaken.  The  poor  arm  finds  itself 
caught  beneath  the  mass  that  oppresses  it,  the  blood  stops,  the 
nerves  twitch,  and  the  numbness  pricks  you  with  its  millions 
of  needles.  You  are  a  sort  of  little  Milo  of  Crotona,  and  the 
surface  of  your  couch  and  the  back  of  your  divinity  represent 
with  sufficient  exactness  the  two  parts  of  the  tree  which  are 
joined  together  again.  Day  comes  at  last  to  release  you  from 
this  martyrdom,  and  you  leap  down  from  this  rack  with  more 
eagerness  than  any  husband  displays  in  descending  from  the 
nuptial  stage. 

"  Such  is  the  history  of  many  passions. 
"  It  is  that  of  all  pleasures. 

"  Be  that  as  it  may,  in  spite  of  the  interruption,  or  by  reason 
of  it,  never  did  such  voluptuousness  pass  over  my  head ;  I 
really  felt  myself  to  be  another.  The  soul  of  Rosette  had 
entered  in  its  integrity  into  my  body.  My  soul  had  left  me, 
and  filled  her  heart  as  her  own  soul  filled  mine.  No  doubt 
they  had  met  on  the  way  in  that  long  equestrian  kiss,  as  Rosette 
afterwards  called  it  (which  by  the  way  annoyed  me),  and  had 
crossed  each  other,  and  mingled  together  as  intimately  as  is 
possible  for  the  souls  of  two  mortal  creatures  on  a  grain  of 
perishable  mud. 

"  The  angels  must  surely  embrace  one  another  thus,  and  the 
true  paradise  is  not  in  the  sky,  but  on  the  lips  of  one  we  love. 

"  I  have  waited  in  vain  for  a  similar  moment,  and  I  have  tried, 
but  without  success,  to  provoke  its  return.  We  have  very  often 
gone  to  ride  in  the  avenue  of  the  wood  during  beautiful  sun- 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  105 

sets  ;  the  trees  had  the  same  verdure,  the  birds  were  singing 
the  same  song,  but  the  sun  looked  dull  to  us,  and  the  foliage 
yellowed  ;  the  singing  of  the  birds  seemed  harsh  and  discord- 
ant, for  there  was  no  longer  harmony  within  ourselves.  We 
have  brought  our  horses  to  a  walk,  and  we  have  tried  the  same 
kiss.  Alas  !  our  lips  only  were  united,  and  it  was  but  the 
spectre  of  the  old  kiss.  The  beautiful,  the  sublime,  the  divine, 
the  only  true  kiss  that  I  have  ever  given  and  received  in  my 
life  had  disappeared  for  ever.  Since  that  day  I  have  always 
returned  from  the  wood  with  a  depth  of  inexpressible  sadness. 
Rosette,  gay  and  playful  as  she  usually  is,  cannot  escape 
from  the  impression  of  this,  and  her  reverie  is  betrayed  by  a 
little,  delicately  wrinkled  pout,  which  at  the  least  is  worth  her 
smile. 

"  There  is  scarcely  anything  but  the  fumes  of  wine,  and  the 
brilliancy  of  wax-candles  that  can  recall  me  from  these 
melancholy  thoughts.  We  both  drink  like  persons  condemned 
to  death,  silently  and  continually,  until  we  have  reached  the 
necessary  dose  ;  then  we  begin  to  laugh  and  to  make  fun  most 
heartily  of  what  we  call  our  sentimentality. 

"  We  laugh — because  we  cannot  weep.  Ah  !  who  will  cause 
a  tear  to  spring  in  the  depths  of  my  exhausted  eye  ? 

"  Why  had  I  so  much  pleasure  that  evening  ?  It  would  be 
very  difficult  to  say.  Nevertheless  I  was  the  same  man  and 
Rosette  the  same  woman.  It  was  not  the  first  time  that  either 
of  us  was  out  riding.  We  had  seen  the  sun  set  before,  and 
the  spectacle  had  only  affected  us  like  the  sight  of  a  picture 
which  is  admired  according  as  its  colours  are  more  or  less 
brilliant.  There  are  more  avenues  of  elms  and  chestnut  trees 
than  one  in  the  world,  and  it  was  not  the  first  that  we  were 
passing  through.  Who,  then,  caused  us  to  find  in  it  so 
sovereign  a  charm,  who  metamorphosed  the  dead  leaves  into 
topazes,  and  the  green  leaves  into  emeralds,  who  had  gilded 
all  those  fluttering  atoms,  and  changed  into  pearls  all  those 
drops  of  water  scattered  on  the  sward,  who  gave  so  sweet  a 
harmony  to  the  sounds  of  a  usually  discordant  bell,  and  to 
the  carolling  of  sundry  little  birds  ?  There  must  have  been 


106  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

some  very  searching  poetry  in  the  air,  since  even  our   horses 
appeared  to  be  sensible  of  it. 

"Yet  nothing  in  the  world  could  have  been  more  pastoral 
and  more  simple.  Some  trees,  some  clouds,  five  or  six  blades 
of  wild  thyme,  a  woman,  and  a  ray  of  the  sun  falling  across  it 
all  like  a  golden  chevron  on  a  coat  of  arms.  I  had,  further, 
no  sensation  of  surprise  or  astonishment !  I  knew  where  I  was 
very  well  I  had  never  come  to  the  place  before,  but  I  recol- 
lected perfectly  both  the  shape  of  the  leaves  and  the  position 
of  the  clouds  ;  the  white  dove  which  was  crossing  the  sky  was 
flying  away  in  the  same  direction — the  little  silvery  bell  which 
I  heard  for  the  first  time  had  very  often  tinkled  in  my  ear,  and 
its  voice  seemed  to  me  like  the  voice  of  a  friend ;  without 
having  ever  been  there  I  had  many  times  passed  through  the 
avenue  with  princesses  mounted  on  unicorns ;  my  most  volup- 
tuous dreams  used  to  resort  thither  every  evening,  and  my 
desires  had  given  kisses  there  precisely  similar  to  that  exchanged 
by  Rosette  and  myself. 

"  The  kiss  had  no  novelty  to  me,  but  it  was  such  a  one  as  I 
had  thought  that  it  would  be.  It  was  perhaps  the  only  time  in 
my  life  that  I  was  not  disappointed,  and  that  the  reality 
appeared  to  me  as  beautiful  as  the  ideal.  If  I  could  find  a 
woman,  a  landscape,  a  piece  of  architecture,  anything  answering 
to  my  intimate  desire  as  perfectly  as  that  minute  answered  to 
the  minute  of  my  dreams,  I  should  have  no  reason  to  envy  the 
gods,  and  I  would  very  willingly  resign  my  stall  in  paradise. 
But  in  truth,  I  do  not  believe  that  a  man  of  flesh  could  with- 
stand such  penetrating  voluptuousness  for  an  hour — two  kisses 
such  as  that  one  would  pump  out  an  entire  existence,  and 
would  make  a  complete  void  in  soul  and  body.  This  is  not  a 
consideration  that  would  stop  me,  for,  not  being  able  to  prolong 
my  life  indefinitely,  I  am  indifferent  to  death,  and  I  would 
rather  die  of  pleasure  than  of  old  age  or  weariness. 

"  But  this  woman  does  not  exist.  Yes,  she  does  exist.  It 
may  be  that  I  am  separated  from  her  merely  by  a  partition. 
It  may  be  that  I  have  jostled  her  yesterday  or  to-day. 

"  What  is  lacking  in  Rosette  that  she  is  not  that  woman  ? 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  107 

She  lacks  my  belief  in  her.  What  fatality  is  it  that  causes  me 
ever  to  have  for  my  mistress  a  woman  whom  I  do  not  love. 
Her  neck  is  smooth  enough  to  hang  on  it  necklaces  of  the 
finest  workmanship ;  her  fingers  are  tapering  enough  to  do 
honour  to  the  finest  and  richest  rings  ;  rubies  would  blush 
with  pleasure  to  sparkle  at  the  rosy  extremity  of  her  delicate 
ear ;  her  waist  might  gird  on  the  cestus  of  Venus ;  but  it  is 
love  alone  who  can  knot  his  mother's  scarf. 

"  All  the  merit  that  Rosette  possesses  is  in  herself,  I  have 
lent  her  nothing.  I  have  not  cast  over  her  beauty  that  veil  of 
perfection  with  which  love  envelops  the  loved  one  ;  the  veil  of 
Isis  is  transparent  beside  such  a  one  as  that.  Nothing  but 
satiety  can  raise  a  corner  of  it. 

"  I  do  not  love  Rosette ;  at  least  the  love,  if  any,  which  I 
have  for  her  has  no  resemblance  to  the  idea  that  I  have  formed 
of  love.  Still  my  idea  is  perhaps  not  correct.  I  do  not  venture 
to  give  any  decision.  However,  she  renders  me  quite  in- 
sensible to  the  merit  of  other  women,  and  I  have  never  wished 
for  anybody  with  any  consistency  since  possessing  her.  If  she 
has  cause  to  be  jealous  of  any,  it  is  only  of  phantoms,  and 
they  do  not  disquiet  her  much.  Yet  my  imagination  is  her 
most  formidable  rival ;  it  is  a  thing  which,  with  all  her  acute- 
ness,  she  will  probably  never  find  out. 

"  If  women  knew  this  !  Of  what  infidelities  is  not  the  least 
volatile  lover  guilty  towards  his  most  worshipped  mistress  ! 
It  is  to  be  presumed  that  the  women  pay  us  back  with  inte- 
rest ;  but  they  do  as  we  do,  and  say  nothing  about  it.  A 
mistress  is  an  obligato,  which  usually  disappears  beneath  its 
graces  and  flourishes.  Very  often  the  kisses  she  receives 
are  not  for  her ;  it  is  the  idea  of  another  woman  that  is  em- 
braced in  her  person,  and  she  often  profits  (if  such  can  be 
called  a  profit)  by  the  desires  which  are  inspired  by  another. 
Ah  !  how  many  times,  poor  Rosette,  have  you  served  to  em- 
body my  dreams,  and  given  a  reality  to  your  rivals !  How 
many  the  infidelities  in  which  you  have  been  the  involuntary 
accomplice !  If  you  could  have  thought  at  those  momenta 
when  my  arms  clasped  you  with  so  much  intensity,  when  my 


io8  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

lips  were  united  most  closely  to  yours,  that  your  beauty  and 
your  love  counted  for  nothing,  and  that  the  thought  of  you  Tas 
a  thousand  leagues  away  from  me  !  If  you  had  been  told  that 
those  eyes,  veiled  with  amorous  languor,  were  cast  down  only 
that  they  might  not  see  you  and  so  dissipate  the  illusion  that 
you  merely  served  to  complete,  and  that  instead  of  being  a 
mistress  you  were  but  an  instrument  of  voluptuousness,  a 
means  of  deceiving,  a  desire  impossible  of  realisation  ! 

"  O  celestial  creatures,  beautiful  virgins,  frail  and  dia- 
phanous, who  bend  your  pervinca  eyes  and  clasp  your  lily 
hands  on  the  golden  background  of  the  pictures  of  the  old 
German  masters,  window  saints,  missal-martyrs  who  smile  so 
sweetly  amid  the  scrolls  of  arabesques,  and  emerge  so  fair 
and  fresh  from  the  bells  of  flowers  !  O  beautiful  courte- 
sans lying  veiled  by  your  hair  only,  on  beds  strewn  with  roses, 
beneath  broad  purple  curtains  with  your  bracelets  and  neck- 
laces of  huge  pearls,  your  fan  and  your  mirrors  where  the  west 
hangs  in  the  shadow  a  flaming  spangle  !  brown  daughters  ot 
Titian,  who  display  so  voluptuously  to  us  your  undulating 
hips,  your  firm  and  compact  limbs,  your  smooth  bodies,  and 
your  supple  and  muscular  frames !  ancient  goddesses,  who 
rear  your  white  phantom  in  the  shadows  of  the  garden  ! — you 
form  a  part  of  my  seraglio ;  I  have  possessed  you  all  in  turn. 
Saint  Ursula,  on  Rosette's  beautiful  hands  I  have  kissed  thine ; 
I  have  played  with  the  black  hair  of  the  Muranese,  and 
never  had  Rosette  more  trouble  in  dressing  her  hair  again  ; 
maidenly  Diana,  I  have  been  with  thee  more  than  Actseon,  and 
I  have  not  been  changed  into  a  stag  :  I  have  replaced  thy 
beautiful  Endymion  !  How  many  rivals  who  are  unsuspected, 
and  on  whom  no  vengeance  can  be  taken  !  Yet  they  are  not 
always  painted  or  sculptured  ! 

"  Women,  when  you  see  your  lover  become  more  tender 
than  is  his  wont,  and  strain  you  in  his  arms  with  extraordin- 
ary emotion;  when  he  sinks  his  head  into  your  lap,  and 
raises  it  again  with  humid  and  wandering  eyes ;  when  enjoy- 
ment only  augments  his  desire,  and  he  stifles  your  voice  with 
kisses,  as  though  he  feared  to  hear  it,  be  certain  that  he  does 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  109 

not  know  even  whether  you  are  there;  that  he  is  keeping 
tryst  at  this  moment  with  a  chimera  which  you  render  palp- 
able, and  whose  part  you  play.  Many  chamber-maids  have 
profited  by  the  love  inspired  by  queens.  Many  women  have 
profited  by  the  love  inspired  by  goddesses,  and  a  vulgar 
enough  reality  has  often  served  as  a  socle  for  an  ideal  idol. 
That  is  the  reason  why  poets  usually  take  trollops  for  their 
mistresses.  A  man  might  live  ten  years  with  a  woman  with- 
out having  ever  seen  her ;  such  is  the  history  of  many  great 
geniuses  whose  ignoble  or  obscene  connexions  have  astonished 
the  world. 

"  I  have  been  guilty  only  of  infidelities  of  this  description 
towards  Rosette.  I  have  betrayed  her  only  for  pictures  and 
statues,  and  she  has  shared  equally  in  the  betrayal.  I  have 
not  the  smallest  material  trespass  on  my  conscience  to  re- 
proach myself  with.  I  am  in  this  respect  as  white  as  the  snow 
on  the  Jungfrau,  and  yet,  without  being  in  love  with  any  one, 
I  would  wish  to  be  so  with  some  one.  I  do  not  seek  an 
opportunity,  and  I  should  not  be  sorry  were  it  to  come ;  if  it 
came  I  should  perhaps  not  avail  myself  of  it,  for  I  have  an 
intimate  conviction  that  it  would  be  the  same  with  another, 
and  I  had  rather  it  were  thus  with  Rosette  than  with  any 
other ;  for,  putting  the  woman  on  one  side,  there  remains  to 
me  at  least  a  pretty  companion,  full  of  wit,  and  very  agreeably 
demoralised ;  and  this  consideration  is  not  one  of  the  least 
that  restrain  me,  for,  in  losing  the  mistress,  I  should  be  gTieved 
to  lose  the  friend '•" 


IV 


O  you  know  that  for  nearly  five  months — yes,  for 
quite  five  months — for  five  eternities,  I  have 
been  Madame  Rosette's  established  Celadon  ? 
It  is  perfectly  splendid.  I  should  never  have 
believed  that  I  was  so  constant,  nor,  I  will  wager,  would  she 
have  believed  it  either.  We  are,  in  truth,  a  couple  of  plucked 
pigeons,  for  only  turtle  doves  could  display  such  tenderness. 
What  billing  !  What  cooing  !  What  ivy-like  entwinings. 
What  a  twofold  existence  !  Nothing  in  the  world  could  have 
been  more  touching,  and  our  two  poor  little  hearts  might  have 
been  put  on  one  cartel,  pierced  by  the  same  spit,  with  a  gusty 
flame. 

"  Five  months  tete-a-tete,  so  to  speak,  for  we  have  been  seeing 
each  other  every  day  and  nearly  every  night — the  door  always 
closed  to  everybody ;  is  it  not  enough  to  make  one  shudder  to 
think  of  it !  Well,  to  the  glory  of  the  peerless  Rosette,  it  must 
be  said  that  I  have  not  been  over-much  wearied,  and  that  this 
period  will  no  doubt  prove  to  have  been  the  most  agreeable  in 
my  life.  I  do  not  believe  that  it  would  be  possible  to  occupy 
a  man  devoid  of  passion  in  a  more  sustained  and  amusing 
manner,  and  God  knows  what  a  terrible  idleness  is  that  which 
proceeds  from  an  empty  heart !  It  would  be  impossible  to 
form  any  idea  of  this  woman's  resources.  She  commenced  by 
drawing  them  from  her  intellect,  and  then  from  her  heart,  for 
she  loves  me  to  adoration.  With  what  art  does  she  profit  by 
the  smallest  spark,  and  how  well  she  knows  how  to  convert 
it  into  a  conflagration  !  how  skilfully  she  directs  the  faintest 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  Ill 

movements  of  the  soul  !  how  well  can  she  turn  languor  into 
tender  dreaming  !  and  by  how  many  indirect  paths  can  she 
guide  the  mind  that  is  wandering  from  her  back  to  herself 
again  !  It  is  wonderful !  And  I  admire  her  as  one  of  the 
loftiest  geniuses  that  can  exist. 

"  I  came  to  see  her  very  cross,  in  a  very  bad  temper,  and 
seeking  a  quarrel.  I  know  not  how  the  sorceress  managed  it, 
but  at  the  end  of  a  few  minutes  she  had  obliged  me  to  pay 
her  compliments,  although  I  had  not  the  least  wish  to  do  so, 
and  to  kiss  her  hands  and  laugh  with  all  my  heart,  although 
I  was  terribly  angry.  Is  such  tyranny  conceivable  ?  Never- 
theless, skilful  as  she  is,  the  tete-a-tete  cannot  last  much  longer  ; 
and,  during  the  past  fortnight,  I  pretty  often  chanced  to  do 
what  I  had  never  done  before,  to  open  the  books  that  are  on 
the  table,  and  read  a  few  lines  in  the  intervals  of  conversa- 
tion. Rosette  noticed  it,  and  was  struck  with  dismay,  which 
she  was  scarcely  able  to  conceal,  and  she  sent  away  all  the 
books  out  of  the  room.  I  confess  that  I  regret  them,  although 
I  cannot  ask  for  them  again. 

"  The  other  day — frightful  symptom  ! — some  one  called 
while  we  were  together,  and  instead  of  being  furious,  as  I  used 
to  be  at  the  beginning,  I  experienced  a  kind  of  joy.  I  was 
almost  amiable ;  I  kept  up  the  conversation  which  Rosette 
was  trying  to  let  drop  so  that  the  gentleman  might  take  his 
leave,  and,  when  he  was  gone,  I  volunteered  the  remark  that 
he  was  not  without  wit,  and  that  his  society  was  agreeable. 
Rosette  reminded  me  that  two  months  before  I  had  thought 
him  stupid,  and  the  silliest  nuisance  on  earth,  to  which  I  had 
nothing  to  reply,  for  I  had  indeed  said  so.  I  was  neverthe- 
less right,  in  spite  of  my  recent  contradiction  :  for  the  first 
time  he  disturbed  a  charming  tcte-a-tete,  and  the  second  time 
he  came  to  the  assistance  of  a  conversation  that  was  exhausted 
and  languishing  (on  one  side  at  least),  and  for  that  day  spared 
me  a  scene  of  tenderness  somewhat  fatiguing  to  go  through. 

"  Such  is  our  position.  It  is  a  grave  one — especially  when 
one  of  the  two  is  still  enamoured,  and  clings  desperately  to 
what  remains  of  the  other's  love.  I  am  in  great  perplexity. 


112  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

Although  I  am  not  in  love  with  Rosette,  I  have  a  very  great 
affection  for  her,  -and  I  should  not  like  to  do  anything  that 
would  cause  her  pain.  I  wish  to  believe,  as  long  as  possible, 
that  I  love  her. 

"  In  gratitude  for  all  those  hours  to  which  she  has  given 
wings,  in  gratitude  for  the  love  which,  for  my  pleasure,  she 
has  bestowed  on  me,  I  wish  it  I  shall  deceive  her,  but  is  not 
an  agreeable  deception  better  than  a  distressing  truth  ?  for  I 
shall  never  have  the  heart  to  tell  her  that  I  do  not  love  her. 
The  vain  shadow  of  love  on  which  she  feasts  appears  so 
adorable  to  her,  she  embraces  the  pale  spectre  with  such  in- 
toxication and  effusion  that  I  dare  not  cause  it  to  vanish; 
yet  I  am  afraid  that  in  the  end  she  will  perceive  that,  after  all, 
it  is  but  a  phantom.  This  morning  we  had  a  conversation, 
which  I  am  going  to  relate  in  dramatic  form  for  the  sake  of 
greater  fidelity,  and  which  makes  me  fear  that  we  cannot  pro- 
long our  union  very  long. 

"  The  scene  represents  Rosette's  room.  A  ray  of  sun  is 
shining  through  the  curtains ;  it  is  ten  o'clock.  Rosette  has 
one  arm  beneath  my  neck,  and  does  not  move  for  fear  of 
waking  me.  From  time  to  time  she  raises  herself  a  little  on 
her  elbow,  and,  holding  her  breath,  bends  her  face  over  mine. 
I  see  all  this  through  the  grating  of  my  eyelashes,  for  I  have 
been  awake  for  an  hour  past.  Rosette's  chemise  has  a  neck- 
trimming  of  Mechlin  lace  which  is  all  torn,  and  her  hair  is 
escaping  in  confusion  from  her  little  cap.  She  is  as  pretty  as 
a  woman  can  be  when  you  do  not  love  her,  although  she  is 
by  your  side. 

"  ROSETTE  (seeing  that  I  am  no  longer  asleep) — 'O  the 
nasty  sleeper ! ' 

"  MYSELF  (yawning) — '  A — a — ah ! ' 

"  ROSETTE — '  Do  not  yawn  like  that,  or  I  will  not  kiss  you 
for  a  week.' 

"  MYSELF—'  Oh  ! ' 

"  ROSETTE — '  It  seems,  sir,  that  you  do  not  think  it  very  im- 
portant that  I  should  kiss  you  ? ' 

"  MYSELF—'  Yes,  I  do.' 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  113 

"  ROSETTE — '  How  carelessly  you  say  that !  Very  well ;  you 
may  expect  that  for  the  next  week  I  shall  not  touch  you  with 
the  tip  of  my  lips.  To-day  is  Tuesday — so  till  next  Tuesday.' 

"  MYSELF — '  Pshaw  ! ' 

"  ROSETTE — '  How,  pshaw  ! ' 

"  MYSELF — '  Yes,  pshaw  !  You  will  kiss  me  before  this 
evening,  or  I  die." 

"  ROSETTE — '  You  will  die  !  What  a  coxcomb  !  I  have 
spoiled  you,  sir.' 

"MYSELF — 'I  will  live.  I  am  not  a  coxcomb,  and  you 
have  not  spoiled  me — quite  the  contrary.  First  of  all,  I  re- 
quest the  suppression  of  the  Sir;  you  are  well  enough 
acquainted  with  rne  to  call  me  by  my  name,  and  to  say  thou 
to  me.' 

"  ROSETTE — '  I  have  spoiled  thee,  D' Albert.' 

"  MYSELF — '  Good.     Now  bring  your  lips  near.' 

"  ROSETTE — '  No,  next  Tuesday.' 

"  MYSELF — '  Nonsense.  Are  we  not  to  pet  each  other  for 
the  future  except  with  a  calendar  in  our  hands?  We  are  both 
a  little  too  young  for  that.  Now,  your  lips,  my  infanta,  or  I 
shall  get  a  crick  in  my  neck.' 

"  ROSETTE — '  No.' 

"  MYSELF — '  Ah  !  you  wish  to  be  ravished,  my  pet ;  by 
heavens !  you  shall  be.  The  thing  is  feasible,  though  per- 
haps it  has  not  been  done  yet.' 

"  ROSETTE — '  Impertinent  man  !' 

"  MYSELF — '  Observe,  most  fair  one,  that  I  have  paid  you 
the  compliment  of  a  perhaps ;  it  is  very  polite  on  my  part 
But  we  are  wandering  from  the  subject.  Bend  your  head. 
Come  :  what  is  this,  my  favourite  sultana  ?  and  what  a  cross 
face.  We  wish  to  kiss  a  smile  and  not  a  pout.' 

"  ROSETTE  (stooping  down  to  kiss  me) — '  How  would  you 
have  me  laugh  ?  You  say  such  harsh  things  to  me  ! ' 

"  MYSELF — "  My  intention  is  to  say  very  tender  ones. — 
Why  do  you  think  that  I  say  harsh  things  to  you  ?  ' 

"  ROSETTE — '  I  don't  know — but  you  do.' 

"  MYSELF — '  You  take  jokes  of  no  consequence  for  harshness.' 


n4  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

"  ROSETTE — '  Of  no  consequence  !  You  call  that  of  no 
consequence  ?  Everything  is  of  consequence  in  love.  Listen, 
I  would  rather  have  you  beat  me  than  laugh  as  you  are  doing.' 

"  MYSELF — '  You  would  like  to  see  me  weep,  then  ? ' 

"  ROSETTE — '  You  always  go  from  one  extreme  to  the  other. 
You  are  not  asked  to  weep,  but  to  speak  reasonably,  and  to 
give  up  this  quizzing  manner,  which  suits  you  very  badly.' 

"  MYSELF — '  It  is  impossible  for  me  to  speak  reasonably  and 
not  to  quiz  ;  so  I  am  going  to  beat  you,  since  it  is  to  your  liking.1 

"  ROSETTE — '  Do.' 

"  MYSELF  (giving  her  a  few  little  slaps  on  her  shoulders) — '  I 
would  rather  cut  off  my  own  head  than  spoil  your  adorable 
little  body,  and  marble  the  whiteness  of  this  charming  back 
with  blue.  My  goddess,  whatever  pleasure  a  woman  may  have 
in  being  beaten,  you  shall  certainly  not  have  it.' 

"  ROSETTE — '  You  love  me  no  longer." 

"  MYSELF — '  That  does  not  follow  very  directly  from  what 
precedes  ;  it  is  about  as  logical  as  to  say :  It  is  raining,  so  do 
not  give  me  my  umbrella  ;  or  :  It  is  cold,  open  the  window.' 

"  ROSETTE — '  You  do  not  love  me,  you  have  never  loved  me.' 

"  MYSELF — '  Ah  !  the  matter  is  becoming  complicated  :  you 
love  me  no  longer,  and  you  have  never  loved  me.  This  is 
tolerably  contradictory  :  how  can  I  leave  off  doing  a  thing 
which  I  have  never  begun  ?  You  see,  little  queen,  that  you  do 
not  know  what  you  are  saying,  and  that  you  are  perfectly  absurd.' 

"  ROSETTE — '  I  wished  so  much  to  be  loved  by  you  that  I 
assisted  in  deluding  myself.  People  easily  believe  what  they 
desire ;  but  now  I  can  quite  see  that  I  am  deceived.  You  were 
deceived  yourself ;  you  took  a  liking  for  love,  and  desire  for 
passion.  The  thing  happens  every  day.  I  bear  you  no  ill-will 
for  it :  it  did  not  depend  upon  yourself  to  be  in  love  ;  I  must 
lay  the  blame  on  my  own  lack  of  charms.  I  should  have  been 
more  beautiful,  more  playful,  more  coquettish  ;  I  should  have 
tried  to  mount  up  to  you,  O  my  poet !  instead  of  wishing  you 
to  come  down  to  me  :  I  was  afraid  of  losing  you  in  the 
clouds,  and  I  dreaded  lest  your  head  should  steal  away  your 
heart  from  me.  I  imprisoned  you  in  my  love,  and  I  believed 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPI.N  ut 

when  giving  up  myself  wholly  to  you  that  you  would  keep 
something ' 

"  MYSELF — '  Rosette,  move  back  a  little ;  you  are  like  a  hot 
coal.' 

"  ROSETTE — '  If  I  am  in  your  way,  I  will  get  up.  Ah  !  heart 
of  rock,  drops  of  water  pierce  the  stone,  and  my  tears  cannot 
penetrate  you.'  (She  weeps.) 

"  MYSELF — '  If  you  weep  like  that,  you  will  certainly  turn 
our  bed  into  a  bath.  A  bath  ?  I  should  say  into  an  ocean. 
Can  you  swim,  Rosette  ? ' 

"  ROSETTE—'  Villain  ! ' 

"  MYSELF — '  Well !  all  at  once  I  am  a  villain  !  You  flatter 
me,  Rosette,  I  have  not  the  honour  :  I  am  a  gentle  citizen, 
alas  !  and  have  never  committed  the  smallest  crime  ;  I  have 
done  a  foolish  thing,  perhaps,  which  was  to  love  you  to  dis- 
traction :  that  is  all.  Would  you  absolutely  make  me  repent 
of  it  ?  I  have  loved  you,  and  I  love  you  as  much  as  I  can. 
Since  I  have  been  your  lover,  I  have  always  walked  in  your 
shadow  :  I  have  given  up  all  my  time  to  you,  my  days  and 
my  nights.  I  have  not  used  lofty  phrases  with  you,  because  I 
do  not  like  them  except  in  writing ;  but  I  have  given  you  a 
thousand  proofs  of  my  fondness.  I  will  say  nothing  to  you 
of  the  most  scrupulous  fidelity,  for  that  is  of  course ;  I  have 
become  seven  quarters  of  a  pound  thinner  since  you  have  been 
my  adoration.  What  more  would  you  have  ?  Here  I  am  by 
your  side; 

Do  people  behave  in  this  way  with  those  whom  they  do  not 
love  ?  I  do  everything  that  you  wish.  You  say  "  Go,"  and  I 
go;  "Stay,"  and  I  stay.  I  am  the  most  admirable  lover  in  the 
world,  it  seems  to  me.' 

"  ROSETTE — '  That  is  just  what  I  complain  about — the  most 
perfect  lover  in  the  world,  in  fact.' 

"  MYSELF — '  What  have  you  to  reproach  me  with  ?  ' 

"  ROSEITE — '  Nothing,  and  I  would  rather  have  some 
of  complaint  against  you.' 
''  MYSELF —     '  This  is  a  strange  quarrel." 


n6  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

"  ROSETTE — '  It  is  much  worse.  You  do  not  love  me.  I 
cannot  help  it  nor  can  you.  What  would  you  have  done  in 
such  a  case?  Unquestionably  I  should  prefer  to  have  some 
fault  to  pardon  in  you.  I  would  scold  you  ;  you  would  excuse 
yourself  well  or  ill,  and  we  should  make  it  up.' 

"MYSELF — 'It  would  be  all  to  your  advantage.  The 
greater  the  crime  the  more  splendid  would  the  reparation 
be.' 

"  ROSETTE — '  You  are  quite  aware,  sir,  that  I  am  not  yet 
reduced  to  employ  that  expedient,  and  that  if  I  pleased  pre- 
sently, although  you  do  not  love  me,  andwe  are  quarrel  ling ' 

"  MYSELF — '  Yes,  I  acknowledge  it  as  purely  an  effect  of 
your  clemency.  Do  please  a  little ;  it  would  be  better  than 
syllogising  at  random  as  we  are  doing.' 

"  ROSETTE — '  You  wish  to  cut  short  a  conversation  which  is 
inconvenient  to  you  ;  but,  if  you  please,  my  fine  friend,  we  shall 
content  ourselves  with  speaking  ! ' 

"  MYSELF — « It  is  an  entertainment  that  does  not  cost  much. 
I  assure  you  that  you  are  wrong ;  for  you  are  wonderfully 
pretty,  and  I  feel  towards  you ' 

"  ROSETTE — '  What  you  will  express  to  me  another  time.' 

"MYSELF — 'Oh  come,  adorable  one,  are  you  a  little 
Hyrcanian  tigress  ?  You  are  incomparably  cruel  to-day !  Are 
you  eager  to  become  a  vestal  ?  It  would  be  an  original  caprice.' 

' '  ROSETTE — '  Why  not  ?  There  have  been  stranger  ones  than 
that ;  but  I  shall  certainly  be  a  vestal  for  you.  Learn,  sir, 
that  I  am  partial  only  to  people  who  love  me,  or  by  whom  I 
believe  myself  loved.  You  do  not  come  under  either  of  these 
two  denominations.  Allow  me  to  rise  ! ' 

"  MYSELF — '  If  you  get  up,  I  shall  get  up  as  well.  You  will 
have  the  trouble  of  getting  into  bed  again  :  that  is  all.' 

"  ROSETTE — '  Let  me  alone  ! ' 

*'  MYSELF — '  By  heavens,  no  ! .' 

'•  ROSETTE  (struggling) — '  Oh  !  you  will  let  me  go  ! ' 

"  MYSELF — *  I  venture,  madame,  to  assure  you  of  the  con- 
trary.' 

"  ROSETTE  (seeing  that  she  is  not  the  stronger) — '  Well  1  t 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  117 

will  stay ;  you  are  squeezing  my  arm  with  such  force ! — What 
do  want  with  me  ? ' 

"  MYSELF — '  To  remain  where  you  are.  I  think  you  might 
have  divined  this  much  without  asking  any  such  superfluous 
question. 

"  ROSETTE  (already  finding  it  impossible  to  defend  herself) — 
'On  condition  that  you  will  love  me  a  great  deal — I  surrender.' 

"  MYSELF — '  It  is  rather  late  to  capitulate  when  the  enemy 
is  already  in  the  fortress.' 

"  ROSETTE  (throwing  her  arms  round  my  neck) — '  Then  I 
surrender  unconditionally — I  trust  to  your  generosity.' 

'MYSELF — '  You  do  well.' 

"  Here,  my  dear  friend,  I  think  it  would  not  be  amiss  to  put 
a  line  of  asterisks,  for  the  rest  of  the  dialogue  could  scarcely 
be  translated  except  by  onomatopoeia. 

*  #  #  »  * 

"  The  ray  of  sunshine  has  had  time  to  make  the  circuit  of 
the  room  since  the  beginning  of  this  scene.  An  odour  of 
lime-trees  comes  in  from  the  garden,  sweet  and  penetrating. 
The  weather  is  the  finest  that  could  be  seen  ;  the  sky  is  as 
blue  as  an  Englishwoman's  eye.  We  get  up,  and  after  break- 
fasting with  great  appetite,  go  for  a  long  rural  walk.  The 
transparency  of  the  air,  the  splendour  of  the  country,  and  the 
joyous  aspect  of  nature  inspired  my  soul  with  enough  senti- 
mentality and  tenderness  to  make  Rosette  acknowledge  that 
after  all  I  had  a  sort  of  heart  like  other  people. 

"  Have  you  never  remarked  how  the  shade  of  woods,  the 
murmuring  of  fountains,  the  singing  of  birds,  smiling  prospects, 
fragrance  of  foliage  and  flowers,  all  the  baggage  of  eclogue 
and  description  which  we  have  agreed  to  laugh  at,  none  the 
less  preserves  over  us,  however  depraved  we  may  be,  an  occult 
power  which  it  is  impossible  to  resist  ?  I  will  confide  to  you, 
under  the  seal  of  the  greatest  secret,  that  quite  recently  I 
surprised  myself  in  a  state  of  most  countrified  emotion  towards 
a  nightingale  that  was  singing. 

"  It  was  in 's  garden  ;  although  it  was  night,  the  sky  had 

a  clearness  nearly  equal  to  that  of  the  finest  day;  it  was  so 


ug  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

deep  and  so  transparent  that  the  gaze  easily  penetrated  to  God. 
It  seemed  to  me  that  I  could  see  the  last  folds  of  angels'  robes 
floating  over  the  pale  windings  of  the  Milky  Way.  The  moon 
had  risen,  but  a  large  tree  hid  her  completely ;  she  riddled  its 
dark  foliage  with  a  million  little  luminous  holes,  and  hung 
more  spangles  upon  it  than  had  ever  the  fan  of  a  marchioness. 
Silence,  filled  with  sounds  and  stifled  sighs,  was  heard  through- 
out the  garden  (this  perhaps  resembles  pathos,  but  it  is  not  my 
fault) ;  although  I  saw  nothing  but  the  blue  glimmering  of  the 
moon  I  seemed  to  be  surrounded  by  a  population  of  unknown 
and  worshipped  phantoms,  and  I  did  not  feel  alone,  although 
there  was  only  myself  on  the  terrace. 

"I was  not  thinking,  I  was  not  dreaming,  I  was  blended 
with  the  nature  that  surrounded  me ;  I  felt  myself  quiver 
with  the  foliage,  glisten  with  the  water,  shine  with  the  ray,  ex- 
pand with  the  flower ;  I  was  not  myself  more  than  the  trees, 
the  water,  and  the  great  night-shade.  I  was  all  of  these,  and 
I  do  not  believe  that  it  would  be  possible  to  be  more  absent 
from  one's  self  than  I  was  at  that  moment.  All  at  once,  as 
though  something  extraordinary  were  going  to  happen,  the 
leaf  was  stilled  at  the  end  of  the  branch,  the  water-drop  in  the 
fountain  remained  suspended  in  air,  and  did  not  complete  its 
fall ;  the  silver  thread  which  had  set  out  from  the  edge  of 
the  moon  stopped  on  its  way— only  my  heart  beat  so 
sonorously  that  it  seemed  to  fill  all  that  great  space  with 
sound.  It  ceased  to  beat,  and  there  fell  such  a  silence  that 
you  might  have  heard  the  grass  grow,  and  a  word  whispered 
at  a  distance  of  two  hundred  leagues.  Then  from  the  little 
throat  of  the  nightingale,  which  probably  was  only  waiting  for 
this  moment  to  begin  its  song,  there  burst  a  note  so  shrill  and 
piercing  that  I  heard  it  with  my  heart  as  much  as  with  my 
ears.  The  sound  spread  suddenly  through  the  crystalline  sky, 
which  was  void  of  noise,  and  formed  a  harmonious  atmosphere, 
wherein,  beating  their  wings,  hovered  the  other  notes  which 
followed. 

"  I  understood  perfectly  what  it  said,  as  though  I  had  had 
the  secret  of  the  language  of  the  birds.     It  was  the  history  of 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUP1N.  119 

the  loves  which  had  not  been  mine  that  this  nightingale  sang. 
Never  was  a  history  more  accurate  and  true.  It  did  not  omit 
the  smallest  detail  or  the  most  imperceptible  tint.  It  told  me 
what  I  had  been  unable  to  tell  myself,  and  explained  to  me 
what  I  had  been  unable  to  understand  ;  it  gave  a  voice  to  my 
dreaming,  and  caused  the  phantom,  mute  until  then,  to  reply. 
I  knew  that  I  was  loved,  and  the  most  languishing  trilling 
taught  me  that  I  should  be  happy  soon.  I  thought  that 
through  the  quivering  song,  and  beneath  the  rain  of  notes,  I 
could  see  the  white  arms  of  my  beloved  stretched  out  towards 
me  in  a  ray  from  the  moon.  She  came  up  slowly  with  the 
perfume  from  the  heart  of  a  large  hundred-leaved  rose. 

"  I  shall  not  try  to  describe  her  beauty.  It  was  one  of 
those  things  to  which  words  are  denied.  How  speak  the  un- 
speakable ?  how  paint  that  which  has  neither  form  nor  colour  ? 
how  mark  a  voice  which  is  without  tone  and  speech  ?  Never 
had  I  had  so  much  love  in  my  heart ;  I  would  have  pressed 
nature  to  my  bosom.  I  clasped  the  void  in  my  arms  as 
though  I  had  closed  them  on  a  maiden's  form  ;  I  gave  kisses 
to  the  air  that  passed  across  my  lips  ;  I  swam  in  effluence 
from  my  own  radiant  body.  Ah  !  if  Rosette  had  been  there  ! 
What  adorable  nonsense  would  I  have  uttered  to  her  !  But 
women  never  know  when  to  arrive  opportunely.  The  nightin- 
gale ceased  to  sing  ;  the  moon,  worn  out  with  sleep,  drew  her 
cloud-cap  over  her  eyes ;  and  I — I  left  the  garden,  for  the 
coldness  of  the  night  began  to  overtake  me. 

"  As  I  was  cold,  I  very  naturally  thought  I  should  be 
warmer  in  Rosette's  bed  than  in  my  own,  and  I  went  to  share 
her  couch.  I  entered  with  my  pass-key,  for  every  one  in  the 
house  was  slumbering.  Rosette  herself  had  fallen  asleep,  and 
I  had  the  satisfaction  of  seeing  that  it  was  over  an  uncut 
volume  of  my  latest  poems.  She  had  both  her  arms  above 
her  head,  her  mouth  smiling  and  partly  open,  one  leg  stretched 
out  and  the  other  slightly  bent  in  a  posture  of  grace  and  ease  ; 
she  looked  so  well  that  I  felt  mortal  regret  at  not  being  more 
in  love  with  her. 

"While  gazing  upon    her,  I  bethought  me  that  I   was  as 


120  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

stupid  as  an  ostrich.  I  had  what  I  had  desired  so  long,  a 
mistress  of  my  own  like  my  horse  and  my  sword,  young, 
pretty,  amorous,  and  intellectual— with  no  high-principled 
mother,  decorous  father,  intractable  aunt,  or  righting  brother ; 
with  the  unspeakable  charm  of  a  husband  duly  sealed  and 
nailed  in  a  fine  oak  coffin  lined  with  lead,  and  the  whole 
covered  over  with  a  big  block  of  freestone — a  circumstance 
not  to  be  despised,  for  it  is,  after  all,  but  slight  entertainment 
to  be  caught  in  the  midst  of  amorous  enjoyment,  and  to  go 
and  complete  the  sensation  on  the  pavement,  after  describing 
an  arc  of  from  40  to  50  degrees,  according  to  the  storey  on 
which  you  happen  to  be — a  mistress  as  free  as  mountain  air, 
rich  enough  to  indulge  in  the  most  exquisite  refinements 
and  elegancies,  and  devoid,  moreover,  of  all  moral  ideas,  never 
speaking  to  you  of  her  virtue  while  trying  a  new  position,  nor 
of  her  reputation  any  more  than  if  she  had  never  had  one ; 
never  intimate  with  women,  and  scorning  them  all  nearly  as 
much  as  if  she  were  a  man,  making  very  light  of  Platonism 
without  any  concealment,  and  yet  always  bringing  the  heart 
into  play : — a  woman  who,  had  she  been  placed  in  a  different 
sphere,  would  undoubtedly  have  become  the  most  notorious 
courtesan  in  the  world,  and  made  the  glory  of  the  Aspasias 
and  Imperias  grow  pale  ! 

"  Then  this  woman  so  constituted  was  mine.  I  did  what 
I  would  with  her  ;  I  had  the  key  of  her  room  and  her  drawer ; 
I  opened  her  letters ;  I  had  taken  her  own  name  from  her  and 
given  her  another.  She  was  my  thing,  my  property.  Her 
youth,  beauty,  love  all  belonged  to  me,  and  I  used  and  abused 
them.  I  made  her  go  to  bed  during  the  day  and  sit  up  at 
night,  if  I  took  a  fancy  to  do  so,  and  she  obeyed  me  simply, 
without  appearing  to  make  a  sacrifice,  and  without  assuming 
the  little  airs  of  a  resigned  victim.  She  was  attentive,  caress- 
ing, and,  monstrous  circumstance,  scrupulously  faithful ;  that 
is  to  say,  that  if  six  months  ago,  when  I  was  complaining  of 
being  without  a  mistress,  I  had  been  given  even  a  distant 
glimpse  of  such  happiness,  I  should  have  gone  mad  with  joy, 
and  sent  my  hat  knocking  against  the  sky  in  token  of  my 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  121 

rejoicing.  Well !  now  that  I  have  her,  this  happiness  seems 
cold  to  me ;  I  scarcely  feel,  I  do  not  feel  it,  and  the  situation  in 
which  I  am  affects  me  so  little,  that  I  am  often  doubtful 
whether  I  have  made  a  change.  Were  I  to  leave  Rosette,  I 
have  an  intimate  conviction,  that  at  the  end  of  a  month, 
perhaps  before,  I  should  have  so  completely  and  carefully  for- 
gotten her,  that  I  should  no  longer  be  able  to  tell  whether  I 
had  known  her  or  not !  Would  she  do  as  much  on  her  part  ? 
I  think  not. 

"  I  was  reflecting,  then,  upon  all  these  things,  and,  feeling  a 
sort  of  repentance,  I  laid  on  the  fair  sleeper's  forehead  the 
chastest  and  most  melancholy  kiss  that  ever  a  young  man  gave 
a  young  woman  on  the  stroke  of  midnight.  She  moved  a  little, 
and  the  smile  on  her  lips  became  somewhat  more  decided, 
but  she  did  not  awake.  I  leant  over  her  and  stretching  out 
my  arms  I  coiled  them  around  her  in  snake-like  fashion.  The 
contact  of  my  body  seemed  to  rouse  her ;  she  opened  her  eyes, 
raised  herself,  and,  without  speaking  to  me,  she  fastened  her 
mouth  to  mine,  and  clung  so  tightly  to  me  as  to  set  my  blood 
coursing  rapidly,  and  I  was  warmed  in  less  than  no  time.  All 
the  lyrism  of  the  evening  was  turned  into -prose;  but  it  was  at 
least  poetical  prose.  That  night  was  one  of  the  fairest  sleepless 
nights  that  I  have  ever  spent :  I  can  hope  for  such  no  longer. 

"  We  still  have  agreeable  moments,  but  it  is  necessary  that 
they  should  have  been  led  up  to,  and  prepared  for,  by  some 
external  circumstance  such  as  I  have  related,  and  at  the  be- 
ginning I  had  no  need  to  excite  my  imagination  by  looking  at 
the  moon  and  listening  to  the  nightingale's  song,  in  order  to 
have  all  the  pleasure  that  is  possible  to  a  man  who  is  not  really 
in  love.  There  are  no  broken  threads  as  yet  in  our  weft,  but 
there  are  knots  here  and  there,  and  the  warp  is  not  nearly  so 
smooth. 

"  Rosette,  who  is  still  in  love,  does  what  she  can  to  obviate 
these  inconveniences.  Unfortunately,  there  are  two  things  in 
the  world  which  cannot  be  commanded — love  and  weariness. 
On  my  part,  I  make  superhuman  efforts  to  overcome  the  som- 
nolence which  overtakes  me  in  spite  of  myself,  and,  like  country 

H 


122  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

people  who  fall  asleep  at  ten  o'clock  in  town  drawing-rooms, 
I  keep  my  eyes  as  wide  open  as  possible,  and  lift  up  my  eyelids 
with  my  fingers !  It  is  of  no  use,  and  I  assume  a  conjugal 
freedom  from  restraint  which  is  most  unpleasing. 

"  The  dear  child,  who  the  other  day  found  herself  the  better 
for  the  rural  system,  brought  me  yesterday  into  the  country. 

"  It  might  be  to  the  purpose,  perhaps,  to  give  you  a  little 
description  of  the  said  country,  which  is  rather  pretty;  it 
might  enliven  our  metaphysics  somewhat,  and,  besides,  the 
characters  must  have  a  background ;  the  figures  cannot  stand 
out  against  a  blank,  or  against  that  vague  brown  tint  with 
which  painters  fill  the  field  of  their  canvas. 

"  The  approaches  to  it  are  very  picturesque.  You  arrive,  by 
a  highway  bordered  with  old  trees,  at  a  star,  the  middle  of 
which  is  marked  by  a  stone  obelisk  surmounted  by  a  ball  of 
gilt  copper.  Five  roads  form  the  rays;  then  the  ground 
becomes  suddenly  hollow.  The  road  dips  into  a  rather  narrow 
valley,  crosses  the  little  stream,  that  occupies  the  bottom,  by  a 
one-arched  bridge,  and  then  with  great  strides  reascends  the 
opposite  side,  where  stands  the  little  village,  the  slated  steeple 
of  which  can  be  seen  peeping  from  among  the  thatched  roofs 
and  round-headed  apple-trees.  The  horizon  is  not  very  vast, 
for  it  is  bounded  on  both  sides  by  the  crest  of  the  hill,  but  it  is 
cheerful  and  rests  the  eye.  Beside  the  bridge  there  is  a  mill, 
and  a  structure  of  red  stones  in  the  shape  of  a  tower ;  the  nearly 
perpetual  barking,  and  the  sight  of  some  brachs  and  young 
bandy-legged  turnspits  warming  themselves  in  the  sun  before 
the  door,  would  tell  you  that  it  is  there  that  the  gamekeeper 
dwells,  if  the  buzzards  and  martins  nailed  to  the  shutters  could 
leave  you  in  doubt  about  it  for  a  moment 

"At  this  spot  there  begins  an  avenue  of  sorbs,  the  scarlet 
fruit  of  which  attracts  clouds  of  birds.  As  people  do  not  pass 
there  very  often,  there  is  only  a  white  band  along  the  middle  • 
all  the  rest  is  covered  over  with  a  short  fine  moss,  and  in  the 
double  rut  traced  by  the  wheels  of  vehicles,  little  frogs,  green 
as  chrysoprase,  croak  and  hop.  After  proceeding  for  some 
time  YOU  find  yourself  before  a  gilded  and  painted  iron  grating, 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  123 

its  sides  adorned  with  spiked  fences  and  chevaux-dc-frise, 
Then  the  road  turns  towards  the  mansion — which,  being  buried 
in  the  verdure  like  a  bird's  nest,  cannot  as  yet  be  seen — without 
hastening  too  much,  however,  and  not  infrequently  turning 
aside  to  visit  an  elegant  kiosk  or  a  fine  prospect,  crossing  and 
recrossing  the  stream  by  Chinese  or  rustic  bridges. 

"Owing  to  the  unevenness  of  the  ground,  and  the  dams 
erected  for  the  service  of  the  mill,  the  stream  has,  in  several 
places,  a  fall  of  from  four  to  five  feet,  and  nothing  can  be  more 
pleasant  than  to  hear  all  these  cascades  prattling  close  at  hand, 
most  frequently  without  seeing  them,  for  the  osiers  and  elders 
which  line  the  bank  form  an  almost  impenetrable  curtain.  But 
all  this  portion  of  the  park  is  in  a  measure  only  the  ante-cham- 
ber of  the  other  part.  A  high  road  passing  across  this  property 
unfortunately  cuts  it  in  two,  an  inconvenience  which  has  been 
remedied  in  a  very  ingenious  manner.  Two  great  embattled 
walls,  full  of  barbicans  and  loopholes,  in  imitation  of  a  ruined 
fortress,  stand  on  either  side  of  the  road ;  a  tower  on  which 
hangs  gigantic  ivy,  and  which  flanks  the  mansion,  lets  fall  on  the 
opposite  bastion  a  veritable  drawbridge  with  iron  chains,  which 
are  lowered  every  morning. 

"  You  pass  through  a  pointed  archway  into  the  interior  of  the 
donjon,  and  thence  into  the  second  enclosure,  where  the  trees, 
which  have  not  been  cut  for  more  than  a  century,  are  of  extra- 
ordinary height,  with  knotty  trunks  swaddled  in  parasitical 
plants,  and  are  the  finest  and  most  singular  that  I  have  ever  seen. 
Some  have  no  leaves  except  at  the  top,  where  they  terminate  in 
broad  parasols ;  others  taper  into  plumes.  Others,  on  the  con- 
trary, have  near  the  body  a  large  tuft,  out  of  which  the  stripped 
stem  shoots  up  to  heaven  like  a  second  tree  planted  in  the  first ; 
you  would  think  that  they  formed  the  foreground  of  an  arti- 
ficial landscape,  or  the  side-scenes  of  a  theatrical  decoration,  so 
curiously  deformed  are  they ;  while  ivy  passing  from  one  to  the 
other  and  suffocating  them  in  its  embrace,  mingles  its  dark 
hearts  with  the  green  leaves  and  looks  like  their  shadows 
Nothing  in  the  world  could  be  more  picturesque.  The  stream 
widens  at  this  spot  so  as  to  form  a  little  lake,  and  its  shallow 


124  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

ness  allows  the  beautiful  aquatic  plants,  which  carpet  its  bed, 
to  be  seen  beneath  the  transparent  water.  These  are  nympha- 
cese  and  lotuses  floating  carelessly  in  the  purest  crystal,  with 
the  reflections  of  the  clouds  and  of  the  weeping-willows  that 
lean  over  on  the  bank.  The  mansion  is  on  the  other  side,  and 
this  little  skiff,  painted  apple-green  and  light  red,  will  save  you 
going  rather  a  long  round  to  reach  the  bridge. 

"It  is  a  collection  of  buildings,  constructed  at  different  epochs, 
with  uneven  gables,  and  a  crowd  of  little  bell-turrets.  This 
pavilion  is  of  brick,  with  corners  of  stone ;  this  main  building  is 
of  a  rustic  order,  full  of  embossments  and  vermiculations. 
This  other  pavilion  is  quite  modern  ;  it  has  a  flat  roof,  after  the 
Italian  fashion,  with  vases  and  a  balustrade  of  tiles,  and  a 
vestibule  of  ticking  in  the  shape  of  a  tent.  The  windows  are 
all  of  different  sizes,  and  do  not  correspond ;  they  are  of  all 
kinds.  We  find  even  trefoils  and  ogives,  for  the  chapel  is  Gothic. 
Certain  portions  are  latticed,  like  Chinese  houses,  with  trellis- 
work  painted  in  different  colours,  whereon  climb  woodbines, 
jessamines,  nasturtiums,  and  virginian  creepers,  the  long  sprays 
of  which  enter  the  rooms  familiarly,  and  seem  to  stretch  out  a 
hand  to  you  and  bid  you  good  morning. 

"  In  spite  of  this  want  of  regularity,  or  rather  by  reason  of  it, 
the  appearance  of  the  building  is  charming.  It  has  at  least  not 
all  been  seen  at  once,  you  can  make  a  choice,  and  you  are 
always  bethinking  yourself  of  something  that  had  not  been 
noticed.  This  dwelling,  which  I  did  not  know  of,  as  it  is  at  a 
distance  of  twenty  leagues,  pleased  me  at  the  very  first,  and  I 
was  most  grateful  to  Rosette  for  having  had  the  triumphant 
idea  of  choosing  such  a  nest  for  our  loves. 

"  We  arrived  there  at  the  close  of  day;  and  being  fatigued,  had 
nothing  more  urgent,  after  supping  with  great  appetite,  than  to 
go  to  bed— separately,  be  it  understood — for  we  intended  to 
sleep  seriously. 

"  I  was  dreaming  some  rose-coloured  dream,  full  of  flowers, 
perfumes,  and  birds,  when  I  felt  a  warm  breath  on  my  forehead, 
and  a  kiss  descending  upon  it  with  throbbing  wings.  A  delicate 
noise  of  lips,  and  a  soft  moisture  on  the  place  that  was  touched, 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  125 

made  me  think  that  I  was  not  dreaming.  I  opened  my  eyes, 
and  the  first  thing  that  I  saw  was  the  fresh  white  neck  of 
Rosette,  who  was  bending  down  over  the  bed  to  kiss  me.  I 
threw  my  arms  around  her  form,  and  returned  her  kiss  more 
amorously  than  I  had  done  for  a  long  time. 

"  She  went  away  to  draw  the  curtain  and  open  the  window, 
then  came  back  and  sat  down  on  the  edge  of  my  bed,  holding 
my  hand  between  both  of  hers  and  playing  with  my  rings. 
Her  attire  was  most  coquettishly  simple.  She  was  without 
corset  or  petticoat,  and  had  absolutely  nothing  on  her  but  a 
large  dressing-gown  of  cambric,  as  white  as  milk,  very  ample  and 
with  broad  folds ;  her  hair  was  drawn  up  on  the  top  of  her 
head  with  a  little  white  rose,  of  the  kind  that  has  only  three  or 
four  leaves ;  her  ivory  feet  played  in  slippers  worked  in  brilliant 
and  variegated  colours,  as  delicate  as  possible,  though  still  too 
large,  and  with  no  quarter  like  those  of  the  young  Roman 
ladies.  As  I  looked  at  her  I  regretted  that  I  was  her  lover, 
and  had  not  to  become  so. 

"  The  dream  that  I  had  at  the  moment  when  she  came  to 
awake  me  in  so  agreeable  a  manner  was  not  very  remote  from 
the  reality.  My  room  looked  upon  the  little  lake  that  I  have 
just  described.  My  window  was  framed  with  jessamine,  which 
was  shaking  its  stars  in  silver  rain  upon  the  floor.  Large 
foreign  flowers  were  poising  their  urns  beneath  my  balcony  as 
though  to  cense  me ;  a  sweet  and  undecided  odour,  formed 
of  a  thousand  different  perfumes,  penetrated  to  my  bed,  whence 
I  could  see  the  water  gleaming  and  scaling  into  millions  of 
spangles;  the  birds  were  jargoning,  warbling,  chirping,  and 
piping.  It  was  a  harmonious  noise,  and  confused  like  the  hum 
of  a  festival.  Opposite,  on  a  sunlit  hill,  stretched  a  lawn  of 
golden  green,  on  which  some  large  oxen,  scattered  here  and 
there,  were  feeding  under  the  care  of  a  little  boy.  Quite  alone, 
and  further  away,  might  be  seen  immense  squares  of  forest  of  a 
darker  green,  from  which  the  bluish  smoke  of  the  charcoal  kilns 
curled  spirally  upwards. 

"  Everything  in  this  picture  was  calm,  fresh,  and  smiling, 
and  in  whatever  direction  I  turned  my  eyes,  I  saw  nothing 


126  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

that  was  not  fair  and  young.  My  room  was  hung  in  chintz, 
with  mats  on  the  floor ;  blue  Japanese  pots,  with  round  bodies 
and  tapering  necks,  and  filled  with  singular  flowers,  were  artisti- 
cally arranged  on  the  whatnots  and  on  the  dark-blue  marble 
chimneypiece  which  was  also  filled  with  flowers ;  there  were 
frieze-panels  of  gay  colour  and  delicate  design,  representing 
scenes  from  rural  or  pastoral  nature,  and  sofas  and  divans  in 
every  corner,  and  then — a  beautiful  and  youthful  woman  all  in 
white,  her  flesh  giving  a  tender  rose  tint  to  her  transparent  dress 
where  it  touched  it.  It  would  be  impossible  to  imagine  anything 
better  ordered  for  the  gratification  alike  of  soul  and  eye. 

"  Thus  my  contented  and  careless  glance  would  pass  with 
equal  pleasure  from  a  magnificent  pot  strewn  with  dragons  and 
mandarins  to  Rosette's  slipper,  and  from  that  to  the  corner  of 
her  shoulder  which  shone  beneath  the  cambric ;  it  would  pause 
at  the  trembling  stars  of  the  jessamine  and  the  white  tresses  of 
the  willows  on  the  bank,  cross  the  water  and  wander  on  the 
hill,  and  then  come  back  into  the  room,  to  be  fixed  on  the 
rose-coloured  bows  on  the  corset  of  some  shepherdess. 

"  Through  the  slashes  in  the  foliage  the  sky  was  opening 
thousands  of  blue  eyes;  the  water  prattled  softly,  and  I, 
plunged  in  tranquil  ecstasy,  without  speaking,  and  with  my 
hand  still  between  Rosette's  two  little  ones,  gave  myself  up  to 
all  this  joy. 

"  Do  what  we  may,  happiness  is  pink  and  white ;  it  can 
scarcely  be  represented  otherwise.  Delicate  colours  suit  it  as 
a  matter  of  course.  On  its  palette  it  has  only  water-green,  sky- 
blue,  and  straw-yellow.  Its  pictures  are  all  bright  like  those  of 
the  Chinese  painters.  Flowers,  light,  perfumes,  a  soft  and 
silken  skin  which  touches  yours,  a  veiled  harmony  coming  you 
know  not  whence,  with  these  there  is  perfect  happiness,  and 
there  is  no  means  of  living  happy  in  a  different  way.  For 
myself,  I,  who  have  a  horror  of  the  common-place,  who  dream 
but  of  strange  adventures,  strong  passions,  delirious  ecstasies, 
and  odd  and  difficult  situations,  I  must  be  foolishly  happy  in 
the  manner  I  have  indicated,  and,  for  all  my  efforts,  I  have  never 
been  able  to  discover  any  other  method  of  being  so. 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  127 

"  I  would  have  you  know  that  I  made  none  of  these  reflec- 
tions then ;  it  was  after  the  event  and  when  writing  to  you  that 
they  occurred  to  me ;  at  the  moment  in  question  I  was  occupied 
only  in  enjoying — the  sole  occupation  of  a  reasonable  man. 

"  I  will  not  describe  to  you  the  life  that  we  are  leading  here ; 
it  may  easily  be  imagined.  There  are  walks  in  the  great  woods, 
violets  and  strawberries,  kisses  and  little  blue  flowers,  luncheons 
on  the  grass,  readings  and  books  forgotten  beneath  the  trees ; 
parties  on  the  water  with  the  end  of  a  scarf  or  a  white  hand 
dipping  in  the  current,  long  songs  and  long  laughter  repeated 
by  the  echo  on  the  bank ;  the  most  Arcadian  life  that  could  be 
imagined ! 

"  Rosette  overwhelms  me  with  caresses  and  attentions ; 
cooing  more  than  a  dove  in  the  month  of  May,  she  rolls  herself 
about  me  and  encircles  me  in  her  folds  ;  she  strives  that  I  may 
have  no  other  atmosphere  than  her  breath,  and  no  other 
horizon  than  her  eyes ;  she  invests  me  very  carefully,  and  surfers 
nothing  whatever  to  enter  or  come  forth  without  permission ; 
she  has  built  a  little  guard-house  beside  my  heart,  whence  she 
keeps  watch  over  it  night  and  day.  She  says  charming  things 
to  me ;  she  makes  me  the  kindest  madrigals ;  she  sits  at  my 
feet  and  behaves  before  me  quite  like  a  humble  slave  before 
her  lord  and  master — behaviour  which  suits  me  well  enough, 
for  I  like  these  little  submissive  ways,  and  I  have  an  inclination 
towards  oriental  despotism.  She  never  does  the  smallest  thing 
without  Uking  my  advice,  and  she  seems  completely  to  have 
renounced  whim  and  wish ;  she  tries  to  divine  my  thought  and 
to  anticipate  it;  she  is  wearisome  with  wit,  tenderness,  and 
kindness ;  she  is  perfect  enough  to  be  thrown  out  of  the 
window.  How  the  devil  can  I  give  up  so  adorable  a  woman 
without  seeming  a  monster  ?  It  would  be  enough  to  discredit 
my  heart  for  ever. 

"  Oh !  how  I  long  to  find  her  in  fault,  and  to  discover  some- 
thing wrong  against  her !  how  impatiently  I  wait  for  an  oppor- 
tunity for  a  quarrel !  but  there  is  no  danger  that  the  rogue  will 
furnish  me  with  one  !  When  I  speak  abruptly,  and  in  a  harsh 
tone  to  her,  in  order  to  bring  about  an  altercation,  she  gives  me 


128  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

such  soft  answers,  in  such  silvery  tones,  with  such  moist  eyes, 
and  with  such  a  sad  and  loving  mien  that  I  seem  to  myself 
something  worse  than  a  tiger,  or  else  a  crocodile  at  the  very 
least,  and,  in  spite  of  my  rage,  am  obliged  to  ask  her  pardon. 

"She  literally  murders  me  with  love;  she  puts  me  to  the 
torture,  and  every  day  brings  the  planks,  between  which  I  am 
caught,  a  notch  closer.  She  probably  wants  to  drive  me  into 
telling  her  that  I  detest  her,  that  she  wearies  me  to  death,  and 
that,  if  she  does  not  leave  me  at  peace,  I  will  cut  her  face  with 
a  horsewhip.  By  heavens !  she  will  succeed,  and,  if  she  con- 
tinues to  be  so  amiable,  the  devil  take  me  but  it  will  be  before 
long. 

"  In  spite  of  all  these  fair  appearances,  Rosette  has  had 
enough  of  me  as  I  of  her ;  but  as  she  has  committed  glaring  follies 
on  my  account,  she  will  not,  by  a  rupture,  put  herself  in  the 
wrong  in  the  eyes  of  the  worthy  corporation  of  womankind. 
Every  great  passion  pretends  to  be  eternal,  and  it  is  very  con- 
venient to  avail  one's-self  of  its  advantages  without  being  sub- 
jected to  its  drawbacks.  Rosette  reasons  in  this  manner : 
'  Here  is  a  young  man  who  has  only  a  remnant  of  liking  for 
me,  and  being  artless  and  gentle,  he  does  not  dare  to  show  it 
openly,  and  is  at  his  wit's  end ;  it  is  clear  that  I  weary  him,  but 
he  will  die  with  the  trouble  of  it  rather  than  take  it  upon  himself 
to  leave  me.  As  he  is  a  sort  of  poet,  he  has  his  head  full  of 
fine  phrases  about  love  and  passion,  and  believes  himself 
obliged,  as  a  matter  of  conscience,  to  play  the  part  of  a  Tristan 
or  an  Amadis.  Hence,  as  nothing  in  the  world  is  more  in- 
tolerable than  the  caresses  of  one  whom  you  are  beginning  to 
love  no  longer  (and  to  love  a  woman  no  longer  means  to  hate 
her  violently),  I  am  going  to  lavish  them  on  him  sufficiently 
to  give  him  a  fit  of  indigestion,  and  he  will  be  obliged  at  any 
rate  to  send  me  to  all  the  devils,  or  else  begin  to  love  me 
again  as  he  did  the  first  day,  which  he  will  carefully  abstain 
from  doing.' 

"  Nothing  could  be  better  conceived.  Is  it  not  charming  to 
act  the  deserted  Ariadne  ?  People  pity  you  and  admire  you, 
and  cannot  find  sufficient  imprecations  for  the  wretch  who  has 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  129 

been  monstrous  enough  to  forsake  so  adorable  a  creature.  You 
assume  a  resigned  and  mournful  air,  you  rest  your  chin  on 
your  hand  and  your  elbow  on  your  knee  in  such  a  way 
as  to  bring  out  the  pretty  blue  veins  of  your  wrist.  Vpu  wear 
more  streaming  hair,  and  for  some  time  adopt  dresses  of  a 
darker  hue.  You  avoid  uttering  the  name  of  the  ungrateful 
one,  but  you  make  indirect  allusions  to  it,  heaving  little 
admirably  modulated  sighs. 

"  A  woman  so  good,  so  beautiful,  so  impassioned,  who  has 
made  such  great  sacrifices,  who  is  absolutely  free  from  reproach, 
a  chosen  vessel,  a  pearl  of  love,  a  spotless  mirror,  a  drop  of 
milk,  a  white  rose,  an  ideal  essence  for  the  perfume  of  a  life — 
a  woman  who  should  have  been  worshipped  on  bended  knees, 
and  who,  after  her  death,  ought  to  be  cut  in  small  pieces  for 
the  purpose  of  relics — to  abandon  her  iniquitously,  fraudulently, 
villainously !  Why,  a  corsair  would  not  do  worse !  To  give 
her  her  death-blow  ! — for  she  will  assuredly  die  of  it !  A  man 
must  have  a  paving-stone  in  his  body  instead  of  a  heart  to 
behave  in  such  a  way. 

"  O  men  !  men ! 

"  I  say  this  to  myself;  but  perhaps  it  is  net  true. 

"  Excellent  hypocrites  as  women  naturally  are,  I  can  scarcely 
believe  that  they  could  go  so  far  as  this ;  are  not  Rosette's 
demonstrations  after  all  only  the  accurate  expression  of  her 
feelings  towards  rne  ?  However  this  may  be,  the  continuation 
of  the  tett-ti-tete  is  no  longer  possible,  and  the  fair  chr.tol.iine 
has  at  last  jusr  sent  oft'  invitations  to  her  acquaintances  in  the 
neighbourhood.  We  are  busy  nwiring  preparations  to  receive 
these  worthy  country  people.  Good-bye,  dear  friend." 


_ 

~~~ ~ 


jfe 


V. 


WAS  wrong.  My  wicked  heart,  being  incapable 
of  love  had  given  itself  this  reason  that  it  might 
deliver  itself  from  a  weight  of  gratitude  which  it 
could  not  support.  I  had  joyfully  seized  this 
idea  in  order  to  excuse  myself  in  my  own  eyes.  I  had  clung  to 
it,  but  nothing  in  the  world  could  have  been  more  untrue. 
Rosette  was  not  playing  a  part,  and  if  ever  a  woman  was  true, 
it  is  she.  Well !  I  almost  bear  her  ill-will  for  the  sincerity  of 
her  passion,  which  is  one  tie  the  more,  and  makes  a  rupture 
more  difficult  or  less  excusable ;  I  would  rather  have  her  false 
and  fickle.  What  a  singular  position  is  this  !  You  wish  to  go 
away  and  you  remain ;  you  wish  to  say,  '  I  hate  you,'  and  you 
say,  '  I  love  you ; '  your  past  impels  you  onward  and  prevents 
you  from  returning  or  stopping.  You  are  faithful,  and  you 
regret  it.  An  indefinable  kind  of  shame  prevents  you  from 
giving  yourself  up  entirely  to  other  acquaintances,  and  makes 
you  compound  with  yourself.  You  give  to  one  all  that  you 
can  take  from  the  other  without  sacrificing  appearances ;  times 
and  opportunities  for  seeing  each  other,  which  once  presented 
themselves  so  naturally,  are  now  to  be  discovered  only  with 
difficulty.  You  begin  to  remember  that  you  have  business  of 
importance. 

"  Such  a  situation  full  of  twitchings  is  most  painful,  but  it 
is  not  so  much  so  as  mine.  When  it  is  a  new  friendship  that 
takes  you  away  from  the  old  it  is  easier  to  get  free.  Hope 
smiles  sweetly  on  you  from  the  threshold  of  the  house  that  con- 
tains your  young  loves.  A  fairer  and  more  rosier  illusion 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  131 

hovers  white-winged  over  the  newly  closed  tomb  of  its  sister 
lately  dead ;  another  blossom  more  mature  and  more  balmy,  on 
which  there  trembles  a  heavenly  tear,  has  sprung  up  suddenly 
from  among  the  withered  flower-cups  of  the  old  bouquet ;  fair 
azure-tinted  vistas  open  up  before  you ;  avenues  of  yoke-elms, 
discreet  and  humid,  extend  to  the  horizon ;  there  are  gardens 
with  a  few  pale  statues,  or  some  bank  supported  by  an  ivy-clad 
wall,  lawns  starred  with  daisies,  narrow  balconies  where  lean- 
ing on  your  elbow  you  gaze  at  the  moon,  shadows  intersected 
with  furtive  glimmerings,  drawing-rooms  with  light  subdued  by- 
ample  curtains ;  all  the  obscurity  and  isolation  sought  by  the 
love  which  dares  not  show  itself. 

"It  is  like  a  new  youth  that  comes  to  you.  You  have, 
besides,  change  of  place,  habit,  and  people ;  you  feel,  perhaps, 
a  species  of  remorse,  but  the  desire  that  hovers  and  buzzes 
about  your  head  like  a  bee  in  the  spring-time  prevents  you 
from  hearkening  to  its  voice ;  the  void  in  your  heart  is  filled, 
and  your  memories  fade  beneath  new  impressions.  But  in 
this  case  it  is  different .  I  love  nobody,  and  it  is  only  from 
lassitude  and  weariness  of  myself  rather  than  of  her  that  I  wish 
that  I  could  break  with  Rosette. 

"  My  old  notions,  which  had  slumbered  for  a  little  while, 
awake  more  foolish  than  ever.  I  am  tormented  as  before 
with  the  desire  of  having  a  mistress,  and  as  before,  in 
Rosette's  very  arms,  I  doubt  whether  I  have  ever  had  one. 
I  see  again  the  fair  lady  at  her  window  in  her  park  of  the  time 
of  Louis  XIII.,  and  the  huntress  on  her  white  horse  gallops 
across  the  avenue  in  the  forest.  My  ideal  beauty  smiles  at  me 
from  the  height  of  her  hammock  of  clouds.  I  seem  to  recognise 
her  voice  in  the  song  of  the  birds,  or  the  murmuring  of  the 
foliage  ;  I  think  that  I  am  being  called  in  all  directions,  and  that 
the  daughters  of  the  air  touch  my  face  with  the  fringe  of  their 
invisible  scarves.  As  in  the  times  of  my  perturbations,  I 
imagine  that  if  I  were  to  post  off  on  the  spot  and  go  somewhere, 
far  away  and  quickly,  I  should  reach  a  spot  where  things  that 
concern  me  are  taking  place  and  where  my  destinies  are  being 
decided. 


132  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

"  I  feel  that  I  am  being  waited  for  impatiently  in  some  corner 
of  the  earth,  I  know  not  which.  A  suffering  soul  that  cannot 
come  to  me  calls  eagerly  for  me  and  dreams  of  me ;  it  is  this 
that  causes  my  disquietude,  and  renders  me  incapable  of  re- 
maining where  I  am  ;  I  am  drawn  violently  out  of  my  element. 
My  nature  is  not  one  of  those  that  is  the  centre  of  others,  one 
of  these  fixed  stars  around  which  other  lights  gravitate ;  I  must 
wander  over  the  plains  of  the  sky  like  an  unruly  meteor,  until 
I  have  met  with  the  planet  whose  satellite  I  am  to  be,  the 
Saturn  on  whom  I  am  to  place  my  ring.  Oh  !  when  will  this 
marriage  be  accomplished  ?  Until  then  I  cannot  hope  to  be 
in  my  proper  position  and  at  rest,  and  I  shall  be  like  the  dis- 
tracted and  vacillating  compass-needle  when  seeking  for  its 
pole. 

"  I  have  suffered  my  wings  to  be  caught  in  this  treacherous 
bird-lime,  hoping  that  I  should  leave  only  a  feather  behind, 
and  believing  myself  able  to  fly  away  when  I  should  think  fit 
to  do  so.  Nothing  could  be  more  difficult ;  I  find  that  I  am 
covered  with  an  imperceptible  net  more  difficult  to  break  than 
that  forged  by  Vulcan,  and  the  texture  of  the  meshes  is  so  fine 
and  close  that  there  is  no  aperture  admitting  of  escape.  The 
net,  moreover,  is  large,  and  it  is  possible  to  move  about  inside 
it  with  an  appearance  of  freedom ;  it  can  scarcely  be  perceived, 
save  when  an  attempt  is  made  to  break  it,  but  then  it  resists 
and  becomes  as  solid  as  a  wall  of  brass. 

"  How  much  time  have  I  lost,  O  my  ideal !  without  making 
the  slightest  effort  to  realise  thee !  How  have  I  slothful! y 
abandoned  myself  to  the  voluptuousness  of  a  night !  and  how 
little  do  I  deserve  to  find  thee ! 

"  Sometimes  I  think  of  forming  another  connection ;  but  I 
have  no  one  in  view.  More  frequently  I  propose,  if  I  succeed 
in  breaking  these  bonds,  never  to  enter  into  similar  ones  again ; 
and  yet  there  is  nothing  to  justify  such  a  resolution,  for  this 
affair  has  been  apparently  a  very  happy  one,  and  I  have  net 
the  least  complaint  to  make  against  Rosette.  She  has  always 
been  good  to  me;  her  conduct  could  not  have  been  better. 
Her  fidelity  to  me  has  been  exemplary ;  she  has  not  occasioned 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  133 

the  slightest  suspicion.  The  most  vigilant  and  restless  jealousy 
would  have  found  nothing  to  say  against  her,  and  would  have 
been  obliged  to  fall  asleep.  A  man  could  have  been  jealous 
only  for  things  that  were  past ;  although  it  is  true  that  in  that 
case  he  would  have  had  abundant  reason  to  be  so.  But  jeal- 
ousy of  this  description  is  a  nicety  which  happily  is  rather  rare ; 
the  present  is  quite  enough  without  going  back  to  search  be- 
neath the  rubbish  of  old  passions  for  phials  of  poison  and  cups 
of  gall. 

"  What  woman  could  you  love  if  you  thought  of  all  this  ? 
You  know,  in  a  confused  way,  that  a  woman  has  had  several 
lovers  before  you ;  but  you  say  to  yourself — so  full  of  tortuous 
turnings  and  windings  is  the  pride  of  man  ! — that  you  are  the 
first  that  she  has  truly  loved,  and  that  it  was  owing  to  a  con- 
currence of  fatal  circumstances  that  she  found  herself  united  to 
people  unworthy  of  her,  or  perhaps  that  it  was  the  vague  long- 
ing of  a  heart  which  was  seeking  for  its  own  satisfaction,  and 
which  changed  because  it  had  not  found. 

"  Perhaps  it  is  impossible  to  really  love  any  one  but  a  virgin 
— a  virgin  in  body  and  mind — a  frail  bud  which  no  zephyr  has 
as  yet  caressed,  and  the  closed  bosom  of  which  has  received 
neither  raindrop  nor  pearly  dew,  a  chaste  flower  which  un- 
folds its  white  robe  for  you  alone,  a  fair  lily  with  silver  urn 
wherein  no  desire  has  been  quenched,  and  which  has  been 
gilded  only  by  your  sun,  rocked  only  by  your  breath,  watered 
only  by  your  hand.  The  radiance  of  noon  is  not  worth  the 
divine  paleness  of  dawn,  and  all  the  fervour  of  a  soul  that  has 
experience  and  knowledge  of  life  yields  to  the  heavenly  igno- 
rance of  a  young  heart  that  is  waking  up  to  love.  Ah  !  what 
a  bitter  and  shameful  thought  is  it  that  you  are  wiping  away  the 
kisses,  of  another,  that  there  is  not,  perhaps,  a  single  spot  on 
this  brow,  these  lips,  this  throat,  these  shoulders,  on  this  whole 
body  which  is  yours  now,  that  has  not  been  reddened  and 
marked  by  strange  lips ;  that  these  divine  murmurs  coming  to 
the  assistance  of  the  tongue,  whose  words  have  failed,  have  been 
heard  before ;  tha*.  these  senses,  which  are  so  greatly  moved, 
have  not  learned  their  ecstasy  and  their  delirium  from  you,  and 


134  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

that  deep  down,  far  away  in  the  retirement  of  one  of  these 
recesses  of  the  soul  that  are  never  visited,  there  watches  an 
inexorable  recollection  which  compares  the  pleasures  of  former 
times  with  the  pleasures  of  to-day  ! 

"  Although  my  natural  supineness  leads  me  to  prefer  high 
roads  to  unbeaten  paths,  and  a  public  drinking-fountain  to  a 
mountain  spring,  I  must  absolutely  try  to  love  some  virginal 
creature  as  pure  as  snow,  as  trembling  as  the  sensitive  plant, 
who  can  only  blush,  and  cast  down  her  eyes.  Perhaps  beneath 
this  limpid  flood,  into  which  no  diver  has  yet  gone  down,  I  may 
fish  up  a  pearl  of  the  purest  water  and  fit  to  be  the  fellow  of 
Cleopatra's ;  but  to  do  this  I  should  loose  the  bond  that  ties 
me  to  Rosette, — for  it  is  not  probable  that  I  shall  realise  my 
wish  with  her, — and  I  do  not  in  truth  feel  the  power  to  do  so. 

"  And  then,  if  I  must  confess  it,  I  have  at  bottom  a  secret 
and  shameful  motive  which  dares  not  come  forth  into  the  light, 
and  which  I  must  nevertheless  mention  to  you,  seeing  that  T 
have  promised  to  hide  nothing  from  you,  and  that  a  confession 
to  be  meritorious  must  be  complete — a  motive  which  counts 
for  much  amid  all  this  uncertainty.  If  I  break  with  Rosette, 
some  time  must  necessarily  elapse  before  she  can  be  replaced, 
however  compliant  may  be  the  kind  of  woman  in  whom  I  shall 
seek  for  her  successor,  and  with  her  I  have  made  pleasure 
a  habit  which  I  should  find  it  painful  to  interrupt.  It  is  of 
course  possible  to  fall  back  upon  courtesans — I  liked  them  well 
enough  once,  and  did  not  spare  them  on  a  like  emergency— 
but  now  they  disgust  me  horribly,  and  give  me  nausea.  Having 
tasted  of  a  more  refined  though  still  impure  passion,  such  crea- 
tures are  not  again  to  be  thought  of.  On  the  other  hand,  I 
cannot  endure  the  idea  of  being  one  or  two  months  without  a 
woman  for  my  companion.  This  is  egoism,  and  of  a  depraved 
description ;  but  I  believe  that  the  most  virtuous,  if  they  would 
be  frank,  might  make  somewhat  analogous  confessions. 

"  It  is  in  this  respect  that  I  am  most  surely  caught,  and  were 
it  not  for  this  reason,  Rosette  and  I  would  have  quarrelled 
irreparably  long  ago.  And  then  in  truth  it  is  so  mortally 
wearisome  to  pay  court  to  a  woman  that  I  have  no  heart  for  it. 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  t  135 

To  begin  again  to  say  all  the  charming  fooleries  that  I  have 
said  so  many  times  already,  to  re-enact  the  adorable,  to  write 
notes  and  to  reply  to  them ;  to  escort  beauties  in  the  evening 
two  leagues  from  your  own  house ;  to  catch  cold  in  your  feet 
and  your  head  before  a  window  while  watching  for  a  beloved 
shadow ;  to  calculate  on  a  sofa  how  many  superposed  tissues 
separate  you  from  your  goddess ;  to  carry  bouquets  and  frequent 
balls  only  to  arrive  at  my  present  position — it  is  well  worth  the 
trouble ! 

"  It  were  as  good  to  remain  in  one's  rut.  Why  come  out  of 
it  only  to  fall  again  into  one  precisely  similar,  after  disquiet- 
ing one's-self  greatly  and  doing  one's-self  much  harm  ?  If  I  were 
in  love,  matters  would  take  their  own  course,  and  all  this  would 
seem  delightful  to  me;  but  I  am  not,  although  I  have  the 
greatest  wish  to  be  so,  for  after  all  there  is  only  love  in  the 
world;  and  if  pleasure,  which  is  merely  its  shadow,  has  such 
allurements  for  us,  what  must  the  reality  be  ?  In  what  a  flood  of 
unspeakable  ecstasy,  in  what  lakes  of  pure  delight  must  those 
swim  whose  hearts  have  been  reached  by  one  of  its  gold-tipped 
arrows,  and  who  burn  with  the  kindly  ardour  of  a  mutual  flame  ! 

"  By  Rosette's  side  I  experience  that  dull  calm,  and  that 
kind  of  lazy  comfort  which  results  from  the  gratification  of  the 
senses,  but  nothing  more ;  and  this  is  not  enough.  Often  this 
voluptuous  enervation  turns  to  torpor,  and  this  tranquillity  to 
weariness ;  and  I  then  fall  into  purposeless  absence  of  mind, 
and  into  a  kind  of  dull  dreaming  which  fatigues  me  and  wears 
me  out.  It  is  a  condition  that  I  must  get  out  of  at  all  costs. 

"  Oh !  if  I  could  be  like  certain  of  my  friends  who  kiss  an 
old  glove  with  intoxication,  who  are  rendered  completely  happy 
by  a  pressure  of  the  hand,  who  would  not  exchange  a  few 
paltry  flowers,  half  withered  by  the  perspiration  of  the  ball,  for 
a  Sultana's  jewel-box,  who  cover  with  their  tears  and  sew  into 
their  shirts,  just  over  their  hearts,  a  note  written  in  wretched 
style,  and  stupid  enough  to  have  been  copied  from  the  '  Com- 
plete Letter  Writer,'  who  worship  women  with  big  feet,  and 
excuse  themselves  for  doing  so  on  the  ground  that  they  have  a 
beautiful  soul ! 


136  t  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

•'  If  I  could  follow  with  trembling  the  last  folds  of  a  dress, 
and  wait  for  the  opening  of  a  door  that  I  might  see  a  dear, 
white  apparition  pass  into  a  flood  of  light ;  if  a  whispered  word 
made  me  change  colour;  if  I  possessed  the  virtue  to  forego 
dining  that  I  might  arrive  the  sooner  at  a  trysting-place ;  if  I 
were  capable  of  stabbing  a  rival  or  fighting  a  duel  with  a  hus- 
band ;  if,  by  the  special  favour  of  heaven,  it  were  given  to  me  to 
find  wit  in  ugly  women,  and  goodness  in  those  who  are 
both  ugly  and  foolish ;  if  I  could  make  up  my  mind  to  dance 
a  minuet  and  to  listen  to  sonatas  played  by  young  persons  on 
harpsichord  or  harp  ;  if  my  capacity  could  reach  to  the  height 
of  understanding  ombre  and  reversis  ;  if,  in  short,  I  were  a  man 
and  not  a  poet,  I  should  certainly  be  much  happier  than  I  am  ; 
I  should  be  less  wearied  and  less  wearisome. 

"  Only  one  thing  have  I  ever  asked  of  women — beauty  ;  1 
am  very  willing  to  dispense  with  wit  and  soul.  For  me  a 
woman  who  is  beautiful  has  always  wit ;  she  has  the  wit  to  be 
beautiful,  and  I  know  of  none  that  is  equal  to  this.  It  would 
take  many  brilliant  phrases  and  sparkling  flashes  to  make  up 
the  worth  of  the  lightning  from  a  beautiful  eye.  I  prefer  a 
pretty  mouth  to  a  pretty  word,  and  a  well-modelled  shoulder  to 
a  virtue,  even  a  theological  one ;  I  would  give  fifty  souls  for  a 
delicate  foot,  and  all  our  poetry  and  poets  for  the  hand  of 
Jeanne  d'Aragon  or  the  brow  of  the  Virgin  of  Foligno.  I 
worship  beauty  of  form  above  all  things ;  beauty  is  to  me  visible 
divinity,  palpable  happiness,  heaven  come  down  upon  earth. 
There  are  certain  undulating  outlines,  delicate  lips,  curved  eye- 
lids, inclinations  of  the  head,  and  extended  ovals  which  ravish 
me  beyond  all  expression,  and  engage  me  for  whole  hours  at  a 
time. 

"  Beauty,  the  only  thing  that  cannot  be  acquired,  inaccessible 
for  ever  to  those  who  are  without  it  at  first ;  ephemeral  and 
fragile  flower  which  grows  without  being  sown,  pure  gift  of 
heaven !  O  beauty !  the  most  radiant  diadem  wherewith 
chance  could  crown  a  brow — thou  art  admirable  and  precious 
like  all  that  is  beyond  the  reach  of  man,  like  the  azure  of  the  firma- 
ment like  the  gold  of  the  star,  like  the  perfume  of  the  seraphic 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  137 

lily  !  We  may  exchange  a  stool  for  a  throne ;  we  may  conquer 
the  world,  and  many  have  done  so ;  but  who  could  refrain  from 
kneeling  before  th.ee,  pure  personification  of  the  thought  of 
God? 

"  I  ask  for  nothing  but  beauty,  it  is  true ;  but  I  must  have  it 
so  perfect  that  I  shall  probably  never  find  it  Here  and  there 
I  have  seen,  in  a  few  women,  portions  that  were  admirable 
accompanied  by  what  was  commonplace,  and  I  have  loved  them 
for  the  choice  parts  that  they  had,  without  taking  the  rest  into 
account;  it  is,  however,  a  ratber  painful  task  and  sorrowful 
operation  to  suppress  half  of  one's  mistress  in  this  way,  and  to 
mentally  amputate  whatever  is  ugly  or  ordinary  in  her  by  con- 
fining one's  gaze  to  whatever  goodness  she  may  possess. 
Beauty  is  harmony,  and  a  person  who  is  equally  ugly  through- 
out is  often  less  disagreeable  to  look  at  than  a  woman  who  is 
unequally  beautiful.  No  sight  gives  me  so  much  pain  as  that 
of  an  unfinished  masterpiece,  or  of  beauty  which  is  wanting  in 
something ;  a  spot  of  oil  offends  less  on  a  coarse  drugget  than 
on  a  rich  material. 

"  Rosette  is  not  bad  ;  she  might  pass  for  being  beautiful,  but 
dhe  is  far  from  realising  my  dream;  she  is  a  statue,  several 
portions  of  which  have  been  finished  to  a  nicety.  The  rest 
has  not  been  wrought  so  clearly  out  of  the  block ;  there  are 
some  parts  indicated  with  much  delicacy  and  charm,  and  others 
in  a  more  slovenly  and  negligent  fashion.  In  the  eyes  of  the 
vulgar  the  statue  appears  entirely  finished,  and  its  beauty  com- 
plete; but  a  more  attentive  observer  discovers  many  places 
where  the  work  is  not  close  enough,  and  outlines  which,  to 
attain  to  the  purity  that  they  ought  to  possess,  -would  need  the 
nail  of  the  workman  to  pass  and  re-pass  many  more  times  over 
them;  it  is  for  love  to  polish  this  marble  and  complete  it, 
which  is  as  much  as  to  say  that  it  will  not  be  I  who  will 
finish  it. 

"  For  the  rest  I  do  not  limit  beauty  to  any  particular  sinuosity 
of  lines.  Mien,  gesture,  walk,  breath,  colour,  tone,  perfume, 
all  that  life  is  enters  into  the  composition  of  my  ideal ;  every- 
thing that  has  fragrance-  that  sings,  or  that  is  radiant  belongs 

i 


138  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

to  it  as  a  matter  of  course.  I  love  rich  brocades,  splendid 
.stuffs  with  their  ample  and  powerful  folds ;  I  love  large  flowers 
and  scent-boxes,  the  transparency  of  spring  water,  the  reflecting 
splendour  of  fine  armour,  thoroughbred  horses  and  large  white 
dogs  such  as  we  see  in  the  pictures  of  Paul  Veronese.  I  am 
a  true  pagan  in  this  respect,  and  I  in  no  wise  adore  gods  that 
are  badly  made.  Although  I  am  not  at  bottom  exactly  what 
is  called  irreligious,  no  one  is  in  fact  a  worse  Christian  than  I. 

"  I  do  not  understand  the  mortification  of  matter  which  is 
the  essence  of  Christianity,  I  think  it  a  sacrilegious  act  to  strike 
God's  handiwork,  and  I  cannot  believe  that  the  flesh  is  bad, 
since  He  has  Himself  formed  it  with  His  own  fingers  and  in 
His  own  image.  I  do  not  approve  much  of  long  dark-coloured 
smock-frocks  with  only  a  head  and  two  hands  emerging  from 
them,  and  pictures  in  which  everything  is  drowned  in  shadow 
except  a  radiant  countenance.  My  wish  is  that  the  sun  should 
enter  everywhere,  that  there  should  be  as  much  light  and  as 
little  shadow  as  possible,  that  there  should  be  sparkling  colour 
and  curving  lines,  that  nudity  should  be  displayed  proudly,  and 
that  matter  should  be  concealed  from  none,  seeing  that,  equally 
with  mind,  it  is  an  everlasting  hymn  to  the  praise  of  God. 

"  I  can  perfectly  understand  the  mad  enthusiasm  of  the 
Greeks  for  beauty ;  and  for  my  part  I  see  nothing  absurd  in 
the  law  which  compelled  the  judges  to  hear  the  pleadings  of 
the  lawyers  in  a  dark  place,  lest  their  good  looks  and  the 
gracefulness  of  their  gestures  and  attitude  should  prepossess 
them  favourably  and  incline  the  scale. 

"  I  would  buy  nothing  of  an  ugly  shopwoman ;  I  would  be 
more  willing  to  give  to  beggars  whose  rags  and  leanness  were 
picturesque.  There  is  a  little  feverish  Italian  as  green  as  a 
citron,  with  large  black  and  white  eyes  which  are  half  his  face 
— you  would  think  it  was  an  unframed  Murillo  or  Espagnolet 
exposed  for  sale  by  a  second-hand  dealer  on  the  pavement ;  he 
always  has  a  penny  more  than  the  others.  I  would  never  beat 
a  handsome  horse  or  dog,  and  I  should  not  like  to  have  a  friend 
or  a  servant  who  had  not  an  agreeable  exterior. 

"  It  is  real  torture  to  me  to  see  ugly  things  or  ugly  persons. 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  139 

Architecture  in  bad  taste,  a  piece  of  furniture  of  bad  shape, 
prevent  me  from  taking  pleasure  in  a  house,  however  comfort- 
able and  attractive  it  may  otherwise  be.  The  best  wine  seems 
almost  sour  to  me  in  an  ill-turned  glass,  and  I  confess  that  1 
would  rather  have  the  most  Lacedaemonian  broth  on  an  enamel 
by  Bernard  de  Falissy  than  the  most  delicate  game  in  an 
earthenware  plate.  Externals  have  always  taken  a  violent  hold 
on  me,  and  that  is  the  reason  why  I  avoid  the  company  of  old 
people;  it  grieves  me,  and  affects  me  disagreeably,  because 
they  are  wrinkled  and  deformed,  though  some  indeed  have  a 
beauty  of  their  own ;  and  a  good  deal  of  disgust  is  mingled 
with  the  pity  that  I  feel  for  them.  Of  all  the  ruins  in  the 
world  the  ruin  of  a  man  is  assuredly  the  saddest  to  con- 
template. 

"  If  I  were  a  painter  (and  I  have  always  regretted  that  I  am 
not),  I  would  people  my  canvases  only  with  goddesses,  nymphs, 
madonnas,  cherubs,  and  cupids.  To  devote  one's  brush  to  the 
making  of  portraits,  unless  they  be  those  of  beautiful  persons, 
appears  to  me  high  treason  against  the  art ;  and,  far  from  wish- 
ing to  double  ugly  or  ignoble  faces,  and  insignificant  and  vulgar 
heads,  I  should  be  more  inclined  to  have  them  cut  off  the 
originals.  Caligula's  ferocity  turned  in  this  direction  would 
seem  to  me  almost  laudable. 

"  The  only  thing  in  the  world  that  I  have  ever  wished  for 
with  any  consistency  is  to  be  handsome.  By  handsome,  I 
mean  as  handsome  as  Paris  or  Apollo.  To  be  free  from  de- 
formity, and  to  have  tolerably  regular  features,  i.e.  to  have 
one's  nose  in  the  middle  of  one's  face,  and  neither  snub  nor 
hooked,  eyes  neither  red  nor  blood-shot,  and  a  mouth  be- 
comingly cut,  is  not  to  be  handsome.  At  this  rate  I  should 
be  so,  and  I  am  as  remote  from  the  idea  that  I  have  formed  of 
manly  beauty  as  if  I  were  one  of  the  clock-jacks  that  strike  the 
hour  on  the  bells ;  I  might  have  a  mountain  on  each  shoulder, 
legs  as  crooked  as  those  of  a  turnspit,  and  the  nose  and  muzzle 
of  an  ape,  and  yet  have  as  close  a  resemblance  to  it. 

"  I  often  look  at  myself  in  the  glass  for  whole  hours,  with 
unimaginable  fixity  and  attention  to  see  whether  some  improve- 


I4o  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

ment  has  not  taken  place  in  my  face;  I  wait  for  the  lines  to  make  a 
movement  and  become  straighter  or  rounder  with  more  delicacy 
and  purity,  for  my  eye  to  light  up  and  swim  in  a  more  vivacious 
fluid,  for  the  sinuosity  that  separates  my  forehead  from  my 
nose  to  be  filled  up,  and  for  my  profile  thus  to  assume  the 
stillness  and  simplicity  of  the  Greek  profile,  and  I  am  always 
very  much  surprised  that  this  does  not  happen.  I  am  always 
hoping  that  some  spring  or  other  I  shall  lay  aside  the  form  that 
I  have,  as  a  serpent  sheds  his  old  skin. 

"  To  think  that  I  want  so  little  to  be  handsome,  and  that  I 
shall  never  be  so !  What !  half  a  line,  a  hundredth  or  a  thousandth 
part  of  a  line  more  or  less  in  one  place  or  another,  a  little  less 
flesh  on  this  bone,  a  little  more  on  that — a  painter  or  a  statuary 
would  have  settled  the  affair  in  half  an  hour.  What  mattered 
it  to  the  atoms  composing  me  to  crystalise  in  such  or  such  a  way  ? 
How  did  it  concern  this  outline  to  come  out  here  and  to  go  in 
there,  and  where  was  the  necessity  that  I  should  be  as  I  am 
and  not  different  ?  In  truth  if  I  had  Chance  by  the  throat  I 
think  I  should  strangle  it.  Because  it  has  pleased  a  wretched 
particle  of  I  know  not  what  to  fall  I  know  not  where,  and  to 
coagulate  foolishly  into  the  clumsy  countenance  that  I  display, 
I  am  to  be  unhappy  for  ever !  Is  it  not  the  most  foolish 
and  miserable  thing  in  the  world  ?  How  is  it  that  my  soul, 
with  her  eager  longing  for  it,  cannot  let  the  poor  carrion  that 
she  keeps  upright  fall  prostrate,  and  go  and  animate  one 
of  those  statues  whose  exquisite  beauty  saddens  and  ravishes 
her? 

"  There  are  two  or  three  persons  whom  I  would  assassinate 
with  delight,  being  careful,  however,  not  to  bruise  or  spoil 
them,  if  I  were  in  possession  of  the  word  that  would  effect  the 
transmigration  of  souls  from  one  body  to  the  other.  It  has 
always  seemed  to  me  that  to  do  what  I  wish  (and  what  that 
is  I  do  not  know),  I  had  need  of  very  great  and  perfect 
beauty,  and  I  imagine  to  myself  that,  if  I  had  it,  my  life, 
which  is  so  fettered  and  tormented,  would  have  been  left  in 
peace. 

"  We  see  so  many  beautiful  faces  in  pictures  ! — why  is  none 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  141 

of  them  mine? — so  many  charming  heads  hidden  beneath 
the  dust  and  smoke  of  time  in  the  depths  of  the  old  galleries  ! 
Would  it  not  be  better  if  they  left  their  frames  and  came  and 
expanded  on  my  shoulders  ?  Would  Raphael's  reputation 
suffer  very  much  if  one  of  the  angels  that  he  makes  to  fly  in 
swarms  in  the  ultramarine  of  his  canvases,  were  to  give  up  his 
mask  to  me  for  thirty  years  ?  So  many  of  the  most  beautiful 
parts  of  his  frescoes  have  peeled  off  and  fallen  away  from  old 
age  !  No  one  would  heed  it.  What  are  these  silent  beauties, 
upon  which  common  men  bestow  scarce  a  heedless  glance, 
doing  around  these  walls  ?  and  why  has  God  or  chance  not 
wit  enough  to  do  what  a  man  has  accomplished  with  a  few 
hairs  fitted  on  a  stick  as  a  handle,  and  a  few  pastes  of  different 
colours  tempered  on  a  board  ? 

"  My  first  sensation  before  one  of  these  marvellous  heads, 
whose  painted  gaze  seems  to  pass  through  you  and  extend  to 
the  infinite,  is  a  shock,  and  a  feeling  of  admiration  which  is 
not  devoid  of  terror.  My  eyes  grow  moist,  my  heart  beats ; 
then,  when  I  become  a  little  more  accustomed  to  it,  and  have 
penetrated  further  into  the  secret  of  its  beauty,  I  make  a  tacit 
comparison  between  it  and  myself ;  jealousy  twists  itself  at  the 
bottom  of  my  soul  in  more  tangled  knots  than  a  viper,  and  I 
have  all  the  trouble  in  the  world  to  refrain  from  throwing 
myself  upon  the  canvas  and  tearing  it  to  pieces. 

"  To  be  handsome  means  to  have  in  one's-self  so  great  a  charm 
that  every  one  smiles  on  you  and  welcomes  you,  that  before  you 
have  spoken  everybody  is  already  prepossessed  in  your  favour 
and  disposed  to  be  of  your  opinion  ;  that  you  have  only  to 
pass  through  a  street  or  show  yourself  on  a  balcony  to  create 
friends  or  mistresses  for  you  in  the  crowd.  To  have  no  need  of 
being  amiable  in  order  to  be  loved,  to  be  exempt  from  all  the 
expenditure  of  wit  and  complaisance  to  which  ugliness  compels 
you,  and  from  the  thousand  moral  qualities  which  are  necessary 
to  make  up  for  the  absence  of  personal  beauty ; — what  a 
splendid  and  magnificent  gift ! 

"  And  if  one  could  unite  supreme  beauty  with  supreme 
strength,  and  have  the  muscles  of  Hercules  beneath  the  skin 


142  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

of  Antinoiis,  what  more  could  he  wish  for  ?  I  am  sure  that 
with  these  two  things  and  the  soul  that  I  have,  I  should  in  less 
than  three  years  be  emperor  of  the  world !  Another  thing 
that  I  have  desired  almost  as  much  as  beauty  and  strength  is 
the  gift  of  transporting  myself  with  the  swiftness  of  thought 
from  one  place  to  another.  With  the  beauty  of  an  angel,  the 
strength  of  a  tiger  and  the  wings  of  an  eagle,  I  might  begin  - 
to  find  that  the  world  is  not  so  badly  organised  as  I  at  first 
believed.  A  beautiful  mask  to  allure  and  fascinate  its  prey, 
wings  to  swoop  down  upon  it  and  carry  it  off,  and  claws  to  rend 
it ; — so  long  as  I  have  not  these  I  shall  be  unhappy. 

"All  the  passions  and  tastes  that  I  have  had  have  been 
merely  these  three  longings  disguised.  I  liked  weapons,  horses, 
and  women  :  weapons  to  take  the  place  of  the  sinews  that  I 
lacked ;  horses  to  serve  me  instead  of  wings ;  women  that  I 
might  at  least  possess  in  somebody  the  beauty  that  was  wanting 
in  myself.  I  sought  in  preference  the  most  ingeniously 
murderous  weapons,  and  those  which  inflicted  incurable 
wounds.  I  never  had  an  opportunity  of  making  use  of  a  kris 
or  yataghan :  nevertheless  I  like  to  have  them  about  me ;  I 
draw  them  from  the  sheath  with  a  feeling  of  unspeakable 
security  and  strength,  I  fence  with  them  at  random  with  great 
energy,  and  if  I  chance  to  see  the  reflection  of  my  face  in  a 
glass,  I  am  astonished  at  its  ferocious  expression. 

"  As  to  horses,  I  so  override  them  that  they  must  die  or  tell 
the  reason  why.  If  I  had  not  given  up  riding  Ferragus  he 
would  have  been  dead  long  ago,  and  that  would  have  been  a 
pity,  for  he  is  a  good  animal.  What  Arab  horse  could  have  legs 
so  ready  and  so  slender  as  my  desire  ?  In  women  I  have  sought 
nothing  but  the  exterior,  and  as  those  that  I  have  seen  up  to 
the  present  are  far  from  answering  to  the  idea  that  I  have 
formed  of  beauty,  I  have  fallen  back  on  pictures  and  statues; — a 
resource  which  is  after  all  pitiful  enough  when  one  has  senses 
so  inflamed  as  mine.  However,  there  is  something  grand 
and  beautiful  in  loving  a  statue,  in  that  the  love  is  perfectly 
disinterested,  that  you  have  not  to  dread  the  satiety  or  disgust 
of  victory,  and  that  you  cannot  reasonably  hope  for  a  second 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  143 

wonder  similar  to  the  story  of  Pygmalion.  The  impossible  has 
always  pleased  me. 

"  Is  it  not  singular  that  I  who  am  still  in  the  fairest  months 
of  adolescence,  and  who,  so  far  from  abusing  everything,  have  not 
even  made  use  of  the  simplest  things,  have  become  surfeited  to 
such  a  degree  that  I  am  no  longer  tickled  by  what  is  whimsical 
or  difficult  ?  That  satiety  follows  pleasure  is  a  natural  law  and 
easy  to  be  understood.  That  a  man  who  has  eaten  largely  of 
every  dish  at  a  banquet  should  be  no  longer  hungry,  and  should 
seek  to  rouse  his  sluggish  palate  with  the  thousand  arrows  of 
spices  or  irritant  wines  may  be  most  readily  explained ;  but  that 
a  man  who  has  just  sat  down  to  table  and  has  scarcely  tasted  the 
first  viands  should  be  seized  with  such  superb  disgust,  be  unable 
to  touch  without  vomiting  any  dishes  but  those  possessing 
extreme  relish  and  care  only  for  high-flavoured  meats,  cheeses 
marbled  with  blue,  truffles  and  wines  with  the  taste  of  flint,  is 
a  phenomenon  which  can  only  result  from  a  peculiar  organisa- 
tion ;  it  is  as  though  an  infant  six  months  old  were  to  find  its 
nurse's  milk  insipid  and  refuse  to  suck  anything  but  brandy. 

"  I  am  as  weary  as  if  I  had  gone  through  all  the  prodigalities 
of  Sardanapalus,  and  yet  my  life  has  been,  in  appearance, 
tranquil  and  chaste.  It  is  a  mistake  to  think  that  possession  is 
the  only  road  which  leads  to  satiety.  It  can  also  be  reached 
by  desire,  and  abstinence  is  more  wearing  than  excess.  Desire 
such  as  mine  fatigues  differently  from  possession.  Its  glance 
traverses  and  penetrates  the  object  which  it  fain  would  have, 
and  which  is  radiant  above  it,  more  quickly  and  deeply  than  if 
it  touched  it.  What  more  can  it  be  taught  by  use  ?  What 
experience  can  be  equal  to  such  constant  and  impassioned 
contemplation  ? 

"  I  have  passed  through  so  many  things,  though  I  have  made 
the  circuit  of  very  few,  that  only  the  steepest  heights  any 
longer  tempt  me.  I  am  attacked  by  the  malady  which  seizes 
nations  and  powerful  men  in  their  old  age — the  impossible. 
All  that  I  can  do  has  not  the  least  attraction  for  me.  Tiberius, 
Caligula,  Nero,  great  Romans  of  the  Empire,  O  you  who  have 
been  so  misunderstood,  and  are  pursued  by  the  baying  of  the 


(44  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN, 

rhetors'  pack,  I  suffer  from  your  disease  and  I  pity  you  with 
all  the  pity  that  remains  to  me !  I  too  would  build  a  bridge 
across  the  sea  and  pave  the  waves  ;  I  have  dreamed  of  burning 
towns  to  illuminate  my  festivals  ;  I  have  wished  to  be  a  woman, 
that  I.  might  become  acquainted  with  fresh  voluptuousness. 

"  Thy  gilded  house,  O  Nero  !  is  but  a  miry  stable  beside  the 
palace  that  I  have  raised  ;  my  wardrobe  is  better  equipped  than 
thine,  Heliogabalus,  and  of  very  different  splendour.  My 
circuses  are  more  roaring  and  more  bloody  than  yours,  my 
perfumes  more  keen  and  penetrating,  my  slaves  more  numerous 
and  better  made ;  I,  too,  have  yoked  naked  courtesans  to  my 
chariot,  and  I  have  trodden  upon  men  with  a  heel  as  disdainful 
as  yours.  Colossuses  of  the  ancient  world,  there  beats  beneath 
my  feeble  sides  a  heart  as  great  as  yours,  and  in  your  place  I 
would  have  done  what  you  did  and  perhaps  more.  How  many 
Babels  have  I  piled  up  one  upon  another  to  reach  the  sky,  slap 
the  stars  and  spit  thence  upon  creation  !  Why  am  I  not 
God,  since  I  cannot  be  man  ? 

"  Oh  !  I  think  that  a  hundred  thousand  centuries  of  nothing- 
ness will  be  needed  to  rest  me  after  these  twenty  years  of  life. 
God  of  Heaven,  what  stone  will  you  roll  upon  me  ?  into  what 
shadow  will  you  plunge  me  ?  of  what  Lethe  will  you  cause  me 
to  drink  ?  beneath  what  mountain  will  you  bury  the  Titan  ? 
Am  I  destined  to  breathe  a  volcano  from  my  mouth  and  make 
earthquakes  when  turning  over  ? 

"  When  I  think  that  I  was  born  of  a  mother  so  sweet  and  so 
resigned,  whose  tastes  and  habits  were  so  simple,  I  am  quife 
surprised  that  I  did  not  burst  through  her  womb  when  she  was 
carrying  me.  How  is  it  that  none  of  her  calm,  pure  thoughts 
passed  into  my  body  with  the  blood  that  she  transmitted  to 
me  ?  and  why  must  I  be  the  son  of  her  flesh  only  and  not  of 
her  spirit  ?  The  dove  has  produced  a  tiger  which  would  fain 
have  all  creation  a  prey  to  his  claws. 

"  I  lived  amid  the  calmest  and  chastest  surroundings.  It  is 
difficult  to  dream  of  an  existence  so  purely  enshrined  as  mine. 
My  years  glided  away  beneath  the  shadows  of  my  mother's  arm- 
chair, with  my  little  sisters  and  the  house-dog.  Around  me  I 


MAFEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  145 

saw  only  the  worthy,  gentle,  tranquil  heads  of  old  servants 
who  had  grown  grey  in  our  service  and  were  in  a  fashion 
hereditary,  and  of  grave  and  sententious  relatives  or  friends, 
clad  in  black,  who  would  place  their  gloves  the  one  after  the 
other  on  the  brim  of  their  hats;  some  aunts  of  a  certain 
age,  plump,  tidy,  discreet,  with  dazzling  linen,  grey  skirts, 
thread  mittens,  .and  their  hands  on  their  girdles  like  religious 
persons  ;  furniture  severe  even  to  sadness,  bare  oak  wainscoting, 
leather  hangings,  the  whole  forming  an  interior  of  sober  and 
subdued  colour,  such  as  is  represented  by  certain  Flemish 
masters. 

"  The  garden  was  damp  and  dark ;  the  box  which  marked 
out  the  beds,  the  ivy  which  covered  the  walls  and  a  few  fir- 
trees  with  peeled  arms  were  charged  with  the  representation  of 
verdure  and  succeeded  rather  badly  in  their  task  j  the  brick 
house,  with  a  very  lofty  roof,  though  roomy  and  in  good  con- 
dition, had  something  gloomy  and  drowsy  about  it  Surely 
nothing  could  have  been  more  adapted  for  a  separate,  austere, 
and  melancholy  life  than  such  an  abode.  It  seemed  impossible 
that  children  brought  up  in  such  a  house  should  not  end  by 
becoming  priests  or  nuns.  Well !  in  this  atmosphere  of  purity 
and  repose,  in  this  shadow  and  contemplation,  I  became 
rotten  by  degrees,  and,  without  showing  any  signs  of  it,  like  a 
medlar  upon  straw.  In  the  bosom  of  this  worthy,  pious,  holy 
family  I  arrived  at  a  horrible  degree  of  depravity.  It  was  not 
contact  with  the  world,  for  I  had  not  seen  it ;  nor  the  fire  of 
passions,  for  I  was  chilled  by  the  icy  sweat  that  oozed  from 
those  excellent  walls.  The  worm  had  not  crawled  from  the 
heart  of  another  fruit  into  mine.  It  had  been  hatched  of  itself 
entirely  within  my  own  pulp  which  it  had  preyed  upon  and 
furrowed  in  every  direction  :  without,  there  was  no  appearance 
and  warning  that  I  was  spoiled.  I  had  neither  spot  nor  worm- 
hole  ;  but  I  was  completely  hollow  within,  and  there  was  left 
to  me  only  a  slight,  brilliantly-coloured  pellicle  which  would 
have  been  burst  by  the  slightest  shock. 

"  Is  it  not  an  inexplicable  thing  that  a  child,  born  of  virtuous 
parents,  brought  up  with  care  and  discretion,  and  kept  away 


146  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

from  everything  bad,  should  be  perverted  of  himself  to  such  a 
degree,  and  come  to  be  what  I  am  now  ?  I  am  sure  that  if 
you  went  back  as  far  as  the  sixth  generation  you  would  not  find 
a  single  atom  among  my  ancestors  similar  to  those  of  which  I 
am  formed.  I  do  not  belong  to  my  family  ;  I  am  not  a  branch 
of  that  noble  trunk,  but  a  poisonous  toadstool  sprung  up  amid 
its  moss-grown  roots  some  heavy,  stormy  night ;  and  yet 
no  one  has  ever  had  more  aspirations  and  soarings  after  the 
beautiful  than  I,  no  one  has  ever  tried  more  stubbornly  to 
spread  his  wings ;  but  each  attempt  has  made  my  fall  the 
greater,  and  I  have  been  lost  through  what  ought  to  have  saved 
me. 

"  Solitude  is  worse  for  me  than  society,  although  I  wish  for 
the  first  more  than  for  the  second.  Everything  that  takes  me 
out  of  myself  is  wholesome  for  me  ;  companionship  wearies  me, 
but  it  snatches  me  away  perforce  from  the  vain  dreaming, 
whose  spiral  I  ascend  and  descend  with  bended  brow  and 
folded  arms.  Thus,  since  the  tete-a-tete  has  been  broken  off, 
and  there  have  been  people  here  with  whom  I  am  obliged  to 
put  some  constraint  upon  myself,  I  have  been  less  liable  to  give 
myself  up  to  my  gloomy  moods,  and  have  been  less  tormented 
by  the  inordinate  desires  which  swoop  upon  my  heart  like  a 
cloud  of  vultures  as  soon  as  I  am  unoccupied  for  a  moment. 

"There  are  some  rather  pretty  women,  and  one  or  two 
young  fellows  who  are  amiable  enough  and  very  gay ;  but  in  all 
this  country  swarm  I  am  most  charmed  by  a  young  cavalier 
who  arrived  two  or  three  days  ago.  He  pleased  me  from  the 
very  first,  and  I  took  a  fancy  to  him,  merely  on  seeing  him  dis- 
mount from  his  horse.  It  would  be  impossible  to  be  more 
graceful ;  he  is  not  very  tall,  but  he  is  slender  and  has  a  good 
figure  ;  there  is  something  soft  and  undulating  in  his  walk  and 
gestures  which  is  most  agreeable ;  many  women  might  envy 
him  with  his  hands  and  feet.  The  only  fault  that  he  has  is  that 
he  is  too  beautiful,  and  has  too  delicate  features  for  a  man.  He 
is  provided  with  a  pair  of  the  finest  and  darkest  eyes  in  the 
world,  which  have  an  indefinable  expression,  and  whose  gaze  it 
is  difficult  to  sustain  ;  but  as  he  is  very  young  and  has  no 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  147 

appearance  of  a  beard,  the  softness  and  perfection  of  the  lower 
part  of  his  face  tempers  somewhat  the  vivacity  of  his  eagle 
eyes  ;  his  brown  and  lustrous  hair  flows  over  his  neck  in  great 
ringlets,  and  gives  a  peculiar  character  to  his  head. 

"  Here,  then,  is  at  last  one  of  the  types  of  beauty  that  I 
dreamed  of  realised  and  walking  before  me !  What  pity  it  is 
that  he  is  a  man,  or  rather  that  I  am  not  a  woman !  This 
Adonis,  who  to  his  beautiful  face  unites  a  very  lively  and  far- 
reaching  wit,  enjoys  the  further  privilege  of  being  able  to  utter 
his  jests  and  pleasantries  in  silvery  and  thrilling  tones  which  it 
is  difficult  to  hear  without  emotion.  He  is  truly  perfect. 

"  He  appears  to  share  my  taste  for  beautiful  things,  for  his 
clothes  are  very  rich  and  refined,  his  horse  very  frisky  and 
thorough-bred  ;  and,  that  everything  might  be  complete  and  har- 
monious, he  had  a  page  fourteen  or  fifteen  years  old  mounted 
on  a  pony  behind  him,  fair,  rosy,  as  pretty  as  a  seraph,  half 
asleep,  and  so  fatigued  with  his  ride,  that  his  master  was 
obliged  to  lift  him  off  the  saddle  and  carry  him  in  his  arms  to 
his  room.  Rosette  received  him  very  kindly,  and  I  think  that 
she  intends  to  make  use  of  him  to  rouse  my  jealousy  and  in 
this  way  bring  out  the  little  flame  that  sleeps  beneath  the  ashes 
of  my  extinguished  passion.  Nevertheless,  formidable  as  such 
a  rival  may  be,  I  am  little  disposed  to  be  jealous  of  him,  and  I 
feel  so  drawn  towards  him  that  I  would  willingly  enough 
abandon  my  love  to  have  his  friendship.'' 


VI. 


|T  this  point,  if  the  gentle  reader  will  permit  us,  we 
shall  for  a  time  leave  to  his  dreams  the  worthy 
personage  who,  up  to  the  present,  has  monopolised 
the  stage  and  spoken  for  himself  alone,  and  go 
back  to  the  ordinary  form  of  romance,  without,  however,  pro- 
hibiting ourselves  from  taking  up  the  dramatic  form,  if  necessary, 
later  on,  and  reserving  to  ourselves  the  right  of  drawing  further 
on  the  species  of  epistolary  confession  addressed  by  the  said 
young  man  to  his  friend,  being  persuaded  that,  however  pene- 
trating and  full  of  sagacity  we  may  be,  we  must  know  far  less 
in  this  matter  than  he  does  himself. 

.  .  .  The  little  page  was  so  worn  out  that  he  slept  in  his 
master's  arms,  his  little  head  all  dishevelled,  swaying  to  and 
fro  as  though  he  were  dead.  It  was  some  distance  from  the 
flight  of  steps  to  the  room  which  had  been  assigned  to  the  new 
arrival,  and  the  servant  who  showed  him  the  way  offered  to 
carry  the  child  in  his  turn ;  but  the  young  cavalier,  to  whom, 
moreover,  the  burden  seemed  but  a  feather,  thanked  him  and 
would  not  relinquish  it.  He  laid  him  down  very  gently  on  the 
couch,  taking  a  thousand  precautions  not  to  awake  him;  a 
mother  could  not  have  done  better.  When  the  servant  had 
retired  and  the  door  was  shut,  he  knelt  down  in  front  of  him 
and  tried  to  draw  off  his  boots ;  but  the  little  feet,  which  were 
swelled  and  painful,  rendered  this  operation  somewhat  difficult, 
and  the  pretty  sleeper  from  time  to  time  heaved  vague  and 
inarticulate  sighs  like  one  about  to  wake ;  then  the  young 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  149 

cavalier  would  stop  and  wait  until  sleep  had  again  overpowered 
him.  The  boots  yielded  at  last,  this  was  the  most  important ; 
the  stockings  offered  only  a  slight  resistance. 

This  operation  accomplished,  the  master  took  both  the  child's 
feet  and  laid  them  beside  each  other  on  the  velvet  of  the  sofa ; 
they  were  quite  the  most  adorable  pair  of  feet  in  the  world,  as 
small  as  could  be,  as  white  as  new  ivory  and  a  little  rosy  from 
the  pressure  of  the  boots  in  which  they  had  been  imprisoned 
for  seventeen  hours — feet  too  small  for  a  woman,  and  which 
looked  as  though  they  had  never  walked ;  what  was  seen  of  the 
leg  was  round,  plump,  smooth,  transparent,  veiny,  and  most 
exquisitely  delicate  ;  a  leg  worthy  of  the  foot. 

The  young  man,  who  was  still  on  his  knees,  regarded  these 
two  little  feet  with  loving  and  admiring  attention;  he  bent 
down,  took  the  left  one  and  kissed  it,  then  the  right  and  kissed 
it  also ;  and  then  with  kisses  after  kisses  he  went  back  along  the 
leg  as  far  as  the  place  where  the  cloth  began.  The  page  raised 
his  long  eyelash  a  little,  and  cast  upon  his  master  a  kind  and 
drowsy  look  in  which  no  surprise  was  apparent.  "  My  belt  is 
uncomfortable,"  he  said,  passing  his  finger  beneath  the  ribbon, 
and  fell  asleep  again.  The  master  unfastened  the  belt,  raised  the 
page's  head  with  a  cushion,  and  touching  his  feet  which,  burn- 
ing as  they  were  before,  had  become  rather  cold,  wrapped  them 
up  carefully  in  his  cloak,  took  an  easy-chair  and  sat  down  as 
close  as  possible  to  the  sofa.  Two  hours  passed  in  this  way 
the  young  man  looking  at  the  sleeping  child  and  following  the 
shadows  of  his  dreams  upon  his  brow.  The  only  noise  that 
was  heard  in  the  room  was  his  regular  breathing  and  the  tick- 
tack  of  the  clock. 

It  was  certainly  a  very  graceful  picture.  There  was  a  means 
for  effect  in  the  contrast  of  these  two  kinds  of  beauty  that  a 
skilful  painter  would  have  turned  to  good  account.  The  master 
was  as  beautiful  as  a  woman,  the  page  as  beautiful  as  a  young 
girl.  The  round  and  rosy  head,  set  thus  in  its  hair,  looked  like  a 
peach  beneath  its  leaves  ;  it  was  as  fresh  and  as  velvety,  though 
the  fatigue  of  the  journey  had  robbed  it  of  a  little  of  its  usual 
brilliance ;  the  half-opened  mouth  showed  little  teeth  of  milky 


ISO  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

whiteness,  and  beneath  his  full  and  glossy  temples  a  network 
of  azure  veins  crossed  one  another ;  his  eyelashes,  which  were 
like  the  golden  threads  that  are  spread  round  the  heads  of  virgins 
in  the  missals,  reached  nearly  to  the  middle  of  his  cheeks ;  his 
long  and  silky  hair  resembled  both  gold  and  silver — gold  in  the 
shade  and  silver  in  the  light;  his  neck  was  at  once  fat  and 
frail,  and  had  nothing  of  the  sex  that  was  indicated  by  his 
dress  :  two  or  three  buttons,  unfastened  to  facilitate  respiration, 
allowed  a  lozenge  of  plump  and  rounded  flesh  of  wonderful 
whiteness  to  be  seen  through  the  hiatus  in  a  shirt  of  fine 
Holland  linen,  as  well  as  the  beginning  of  a  certain  curving 
line  difficult  of  explanation  on  the  bosom  of  a  young  boy ; 
looking  carefully  at  him  it  might  also  have  been  found  that  his 
hips  were  a  little  too  much  developed. 

The  reader  may  draw  his  own  conclusions  ;  we  are  offering 
him  mere  conjectures.  We  know  as  little  of  the  matter  as  he 
does,  but  we  hope  to  know  more  after  a  time,  and  we  promise 
to  faithfully  keep  him  aware  of  our  discoveries.  If  the  reader's 
sight  is  better  than  ours,  let  his  glance  penetrate  beneath  the 
lace  on  that  shirt  and  decide  conscientiously  whether  the 
outline  is  too  prominent  or  not  prominent  enough ;  but  we 
warn  him  that  the  curtains  are  drawn,  and  that  a  twilight 
scarcely  favourable  for  investigations  of  the  kind  reigns  in  the 
room. 

The  cavalier  was  pale,  but  of  a  golden  paleness  full  of  vigour 
and  life ;  his  pupils  swam  in  a  blue,  crystalline  humour ;  his 
straight  and  delicate  nose  imparted  wonderful  pride  and  energy 
to  his  profile,  and  its  flesh  was  so  fine  that  at  the  edge  of  the 
outline  it  suffered  the  light  to  pierce  through ;  his  mouth  had, 
at  certain  moments,  the  sweetest  of  smiles,  but  usually  it  was 
arched  at  the  corners,  inwards  rather  than  outwards,  like  some 
of  the  heads  that  we  see  in  the  pictures  of  the  old  Italian 
masters ;  and  this  gave  him  a  little  look  of  adorable  disdain,  a 
most  piquant  smorfia,  an  air  of  childish  pouting  and  ill-humour, 
which  was  very  singular  and  very  charming. 

What  were  the  ties  uniting  master  to  page  and  page  to 
master?  There  was  assuredly  something  more  between  them 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  151 

than  the  affection  which  may  exist  between  master  and  servant. 
Were  they  two  friends  or  two  brothers?  If  so,  why  this 
disguise  ?  It  would  at  all  events  have  been  difficult  for  any  one 
who  had  witnessed  the  scene  that  we  have  just  described,  to 
believe  that  these  two  personages  were  in  reality  only  what  they 
appeared  to  be. 

"  The  dear  angel,  how  he  sleeps  !  "  said  the  young  man  in  a 
low  voice  ;  "  I  don't  think  that  he  has  ever  travelled  so  far  in 
his  life.  Twenty  leagues  on  horseback,  he  who  is  so  delicate  ! 
I  am  afraid  that  he  will  be  ill  from  fatigue.  But  no,  it  will  be 
nothing ;  there  will  be  no  sign  of  it  to-morrow ;  he  will  have 
recovered  his  beautiful  colour,  and  be  fresher  than  a  rose  after 
rain.  How  beautiful  he  is,  so  !  If  I  were  not  afraid  of 
awaking  him,  I  would  eat  him  up  with  caresses.  What  an 
adorable  dimple  he  has  on  his  chin  !  what  delicacy  and 
whiteness  of  skin  !  Sleep  well,  dear  treasure.  Ah  !  I  am  truly 
jealous  of  your  mother  and  I  wish  that  I  had  made  you.  He 
is  not  ill  ?  No ;  his  breathing  is  regular,  and  he  does  not 
stir.  But  I  think  some  one  knocked  " 

And  indeed  two  little  taps  had  been  given  as  softly  as  possible 
on  the  panel  of  the  door. 

The  young  man  rose,  and,  fearing  that  he  was  mistaken,  de- 
layed opening  until  there  should  be  another  knock.  Two  other 
taps,  a  little  more  accentuated,  were  heard  again,  and  a  woman's 
soft  voice  said  in  a  very  low  tone :  "  It  is  I,  Theodore." 

Theodore  opened  the  door,  but  with  less  eagerness  than  is 
usual  with  a  young  man  opening  to  a  young  woman  with  a 
gentle  voice  who  comes  scratching  mysteriously  at  his  door 
towards  nightfall.  The  folding  door,  being  half-opened,  gave 
passage  to  whom,  think  you  ? — to  the  mistress  of  the  perplexed 
D'Albert,  the  Princess  Rosette  in  person,  rosier  than  her 
name,  and  her  bosom  as  moved  as  was  ever  that  of  a  woman 
entering  at  evening  the  room  of  a  handsome  cavalier. 

"  Theodore  ! "  said  Rosette. 

Theodore  raised  his  finger  and  laid  it  on  his  lips,  so  that  he 
looked  like  a  statue  of  silence,  and,  showing  her  the  sleeping 
child,  conducted  her  into  the  next  room. 


152  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

"Theodore,"  resumed  Rosette,  who  seemed  to  find  singular 
pleasure  in  repeating  the  name,  and  to  be  seeking  at  the  same 
time  to  collect  her  ideas.  "  Theodore,"  she  continued,  without 
releasing  the  hand  which  the  young  man  had  offered  to  her  to 
lead  her  to  an  easy-chair,  "  so  you  have  at  last  come  back  to  us  ? 
What  have  you  been  doing  all  this  time?  where  have  you 
been?  Do  you  know  that  I  have  not  seen  you  for  six  months? 
Ah  !  Theodore,  that  is  not  well ;  some  consideration  and  some 
pity  is  due  to  those  who  love  us,  even  though  we  do  not  love 
them." 

THEODORE — "What  have  I  been  doing?  I  do  not  know. 
I  have  come  and  gone,  slept  and  waked,  wept  and  sung,  I 
have  been  hungry  and  thirsty,  too  hot  and  too  cold,  I  have 
been  weary,  I  have  less  money,  and  am  six  months  older,  I 
have  been  living  and  that  is  all.  And  you,  what  have  you 
been  doing?" 

ROSETTE — "  I  have  been  loving  you." 

THEODORE — "  You  have  done  nothing  else  ?  " 

ROSETTE — "  Absolutely  nothing  else.  I  have  been  employ 
ing  my  time  badly,  have  I  not  ?  " 

THEODORE — "  You  might  have  employed  it  better,  my  poor 
Rosette ;  for  instance,  in  loving  some  one  who  could  return 
your  love." 

ROSETTE — "I  am  disinterested  in  love,  as  I  am  in  every- 
thing. I  do  not  lend  love  on  usury ;  I  give  it  as  a  pure  gift." 

THEODORE — "  That  is  a  very  rare  virtue,  and  one  which  can 
only  spring  up  in  a  chosen  soul.  I  have  often  wished  to  be 
able  to  love  you,  at  least  in  the  way  that  you  would  like ;  but 
there  is  an  insurmountable  obstacle  between  us  which  I  cannot 
explain  to  you.  Have  you  had  another  lover  since  I  left 
you?" 

ROSETTE — "  I  have  had  one  whom  I  have  still." 

THEODORE — "What  sort  of  man  is  he?" 

ROSETTE — "  A  poet." 

THEODORF — "  The  devil !  what  kind  of  poet,  and  what  has 
he  written  ?  " 

ROSETTE — "  I  do  not  quite  know ;   a  sort  of  volume  that 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  153 

nobody  is  acquainted  with,  and  that  I  tried  to  read  one 
evening." 

THEODORE — "  So  you  have  an  unknown  poet  for  your 
lover.  That  must  be  curious.  Has  he  holes  at  his  elbows, 
dirty  linen,  and  stockings  like  the  screw  of  a  press  ?" 

ROSETTE — "  No ;  he  dresses  pretty  well,  washes  his  hands, 
and  has  no  inkspots  on  the  tip  of  his  nose.  He  is  a  friend  of 

C 's ;  I  met  him  at  Madame  de  The"mines's  house ;  you 

know  a  big  woman  who  acts  the  child  and  puts  on  little 
innocent  airs." 

THEODORE — "  Arid  might  one  know  the  name  of  this  glorious 
personage  ?  " 

ROSETTE — "  Oh,  dear,  yes !  He  is  called  the  Chevalier 
d'Albert." 

THEODORE — "  The  Chevalier  d'Albert !  It  seems  to  me  that 
he  is  the  young  man  who  was  on  the  balcony  when  I  was  dis- 
mounting." 

ROSETTE — "  Exactly." 

THEODORE — "And  who  looked  at  me  with  such  attention." 

ROSETTE — "  Himself." 

THEODORE — "  He  is  well  enough. — And  he  has  not  caused 
me  to  be  forgotten  ?  " 

ROSETTE — "No.  You  are  unfortunately  not  one  of  those 
who  can  be  forgotten." 

THEODORE — "  He  is  very  fond  of  you,  no  doubt  ?  '" 

ROSETTE — "I  am  not  quite  sure.  There  are  time:;  when 
you  would  think  that  he  loved  me  very  much ;  but  in  reality  he 
does  not  love  me,  and  he  is  not  far  from  hating  me,  for  he  bears 
me  ill-will  because  of  his  inability  to  love  me.  He  has  acted 
like  many  others  more  experienced  than  he ;  he  mistook  a  keen 
liking  for  passion,  and  was  quite  surprised  and  disappointed 
when  his  desire  was  satisfied.  It  is  a  mistake  to  think  that 
people  must  continue  worshipping  each  other  after  they  have 
become  thoroughly  satiated." 

THEODORE — "  And  what  do  you  intend  to  do  with  this  said 
lover,  who  is  not  in  love  ?" 

ROSETTE—"  What  is  done  with  the  old  quarters  of  the  moon, 

K 


154  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

or  with  last  year's  fashions.  He  is  not  strong  enough  to  leave 
me  the  first,  and,  although  he  does  not  love  me  in  the  true 
sense  of  the  word,  he  is  attached  to  me  by  a  habit  of  pleasure; 
and  such  habits  are  the  most  difficult  to  break.  If  I  do  not 
assist  him  he  is  capable  of  wearying  himself  conscientiously 
with  me  until  the  day  of  the  last  judgment,  and  even  beyond 
it ;  for  he  has  the  germ  of  every  noble  quality  in  him ;  and  the 
flowers  of  his  soul  seek  only  to  blossom  in  the  sunshine  of  ever- 
lasting love.  Really,  I  am  sorry  that  I  was  not  the  ray  for 
him.  Of  all  my  lovers  that  I  did  not  love,  I  love  him  the 
most ;  and  if  1  were  not  so  good  as  I  am  I  should  not  give 
him  back  his  liberty,  and  should  keep  him  still  I  shall  not 
do  so;  I  am  at  this  moment  finishing  with  him." 

THEODORE — "  How  long  will  that  last?" 

ROSETTE — "A  fortnight  or  three  weeks,  but  certainly  a  shorter 
time  than  it  would  have  lasted  had  you  not  come.  I  know 
that  I  shall  never  be  your  mistress.  For  this,  you  say,  there  is 
a  secret  reason  to  which  I  would  submit  if  you  were  permitted 
to  reveal  it  to  me.  All  hope  must  therefore  be  forbidden 
me  in  this  respect,  and  yet  I  cannot  make  up  my  mind  to  be 
the  mistress  of  another  when  you  are  present:  it  seems  to  me 
that  it  is  a  profanation,  and  that  I  have  no  longer  any  right  to 
love  you." 

THEODORE — "  Keep  him  for  the  love  of  me." 

ROSETTE — "  If  it  gives  you  pleasure  I  will  do  so.  Ah  !  if 
you  could  have  been  mine,  how  different  would  my  life  have 
been  from  what  it  has  been  !  The  world  has  a  very  false  idea 
of  me,  and  I  shall  pass  away  without  any  one  suspecting  what 
I  was — except  you,  Thdodore,  who  alone  have  understood  me, 
and  have  been  cruel  to  me.  I  have  never  desired  anyone  but 
you  for  my  lover,  and  I  have  not  had  you.  If  you  had  loved 
me,  Theodore !  I  should  have  been  virtuous  and  chaste,  I 
should  have  been  worthy  of  you.  Instead  of  that  I  shall  leave 
behind  me  (if  any  one  remembers  me)  the  reputation  of  a  gay 
woman,  a  sort  of  courtesan  who  differed  from  the  one  of  the 
gutter  only  in  rank  and  fortune.  I  was  born  with  the  loftiest 
ind'nations ;  but  nothing  corrupts  ake  not  being  loved.  Many 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  155 

despise  me  without  knowing  what  I  must  have  suffered  in  order  to 
come  to  be  what  I  am.  Being  sure  that  I  should  never  belong  to 
him  whom  I  preferred  above  all  others,  I  abandoned  myself  to 
the  stream,  I  did  not  take  the  trouble  to  protect  a  body  that 
could  not  be  yours.  As  to  my  heart  nobody  has  had  it,  or  ever 
will  have  it.  It  is  yours,  though  you  have  broken  it ;  and 
unlike  most  of  the  women  who  think  themselves  virtuous, 
provided  that  they  have  not  passed  from  the  arms  of  one  man 
to  those  of  another,  I  have  always  been  faithful  in  soul  and 
heart  to  the  thought  of  you. 

"  I  have  at  least  made  some  persons  happy,  I  have  sent  fair 
illusions  dancing  round  some  pillows,  I  have  innocently 
deceived  more  than  one  noble  heart ;  I  was  so  wretched  at 
being  repulsed  by  you  that  I  was  always  terrified  at  the  idea  of 
subjecting  anyone  to  similar  torture.  That  was  the  only  motive 
for  many  adventures  which  have  been  attributed  to  a  pure 
spirit  of  libertinism  !  I !  libertinism  !  O  world  !  If  you 
knew,  Theodore,  how  profoundly  painful  it  is  to  feel  that  you 
have  missed  your  life,  and  passed  your  happiness  by,  to  see 
that  everyone  is  mistaken  concerning  you  and  that  it  is 
impossible  to  change  the  opinion  that  people  have  of  you,  that 
your  finest  qualities  are  turned  into  faults,  your  purest  essences 
into  black  poisons,  and  that  what  is  bad  in  you  has  alone 
transpired ;  to  find  the  doors  always  open  to  your  vices  and 
always  closed  to  your  virtues,  and  to  be  unable  to  bring  a  single 
lily  or  rose  to  good  amid  so  much  hemlock  and  aconite  ! — you 
do  not  know  this,  Theodore." 

THEODORE — "  Alas  !  alas  !  what  you  say  Rosette  is  the 
history  of  everyone  ;  the  best  part  of  us  is  that  which  remains 
within  us,  and  which  we  cannot  bring  forth.  It  is  so  with 
poets.  Their  finest  poem  is  one  that  they  have  not  written ; 
they  carry  away  more  poems  in  their  coffins  than  they  leave  in 
their  libraries." 

ROSETTE — "  I  shall  carry  my  poem  away  with  me. 

THEODORE — "  And  I,  mine.  Who  has  not  made  one  in  his 
lifetime  ?  who  is  so  happy  or  so  unhappy  that  he  has  not 
composed  one  of  his  own  in  his  head  or  his  heart  ?  Execu- 


156  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

tioners  perhaps  have  made  some  that  are  moist  with  the  tears  ol 
the  tenderest  sensibility;  and  poets  perhaps  have  made  some 
which  would  have  been  suitable  for  executioners,  so  red  and 
monstrous  are  they." 

ROSETTE — "  Yes.  They  might  put  white  roses  on  my  tomb. 
I  have  had  ten  lovers — but  I  am  a  virgin,  and  shall  die  one. 
Many  virgins,  upon  whose  tombs  there  falls  a  perpetual  snow 
of  jessamine  and  orange  blossom,  were  veritable  Messalinas." 

THEODORE — "  I  know  your  worth,  Rosette." 

ROSETTE — "  You  are  the  only  one  in  the  world  who  has 
seen  what  I  am ;  for  you  have  seen  me  under  the  blow  of  a 
very  true  and  deep  love,  since  it  is  without  hope ;  and  one  who 
has  not  seen  a  woman  in  love  cannot  tell  what  she  is  ;  it  is  this 
that  comforts  me  in  my  bitterness." 

THEODORE — "  And  what  does  this  young  man  think  of  you 
who,  in  the  eyes  of  the  world,  is  at  present  your  lover  ?  " 

ROSETTE — "  A  lover's  thought  is  a  deeper  gulf  than  the  Bay 
of  Portugal,  and  it  is  very  difficult  to  say  what  there  is  at  bottom 
in  a  man  ;  you  might  fasten  the  sounding-lead  to  a  cord  a 
hundred  thousand  fathoms  long,  and  reel  it  off  to  the  end,  and 
it  would  still  run  without  meeting  anything  to  stop  it.  Yet  in 
his  case  I  have  occasionally  touched  the  bottom  at  places,  and  the 
lead  has  brought  back  sometimes  mud  and  sometimes  beautiful 
shells,  but  oftenest  mud  with  fragments  of  coral  mingled 
together.  As  to  his  opinion  of  me  it  has  greatly  varied ;  he 
began  at  first  where  others  end,  he  despised  me ;  young 
people  who  possess  a  lively  imagination  are  liable  to  do  this. 
There  is  always  a  tremendous  downfall  in  the  first  step  that 
they  take,  and  the  passage  of  their  chimera  into  reality  cannot 
be  accomplished  without  a  shock.  He  despised  me,  and  I 
amused  him ;  now  he  esteems  me,  and  I  weary  him. 

"  In  the  first  days  of  our  union  he  saw  only  my  vulgar  side, 
and  I  think  that  the  certainty  of  meeting  with  no  resistance 
counted  for  much  in  his  determination.  He  appeared 
extremely  eager  to  have  an  affair,  and  I  thought  at  first  that  it 
was  one  of  those  plenitudes  of  heart  which  seek  but  to  over- 
flow, one  of  those  vague  loves  which  people  have  in  the  May- 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  15; 

month  of  youth,  and  which  lead  them,  in  the  absence  of  women, 
to  encircle  the  trunks  of  trees  with  their  arms,  and  kiss  the 
flowers  and  grass  in  the  meadows.  But  it  was  not  that ;  he 
was  only  passing  through  me  to  arrive  at  something  else.  I 
was  a  road  for  him,  and  not  an  end.  Beneath  the  fresh 
appearance  of  his  twenty  years,  beneath  the  first  dawn  of 
adolescence,  he  concealed  profound  corruption.  He  was 
worm-eaten  at  the  core ;  he  was  a  fruit  that  contained  nothing 
but  ashes.  In  that  young  and  vigorous  body  there  struggled 
a  soul  as  old  as  Saturn's, — a  soul  as  incurably  unhappy  as  ever 
there  existed. 

"  I  confess  to  you,  Theodore,  that  I  was  frightened  and  was 
almost  seized  with  giddiness  as  I  leaned  over  the  dark  depths 
of  that  life.  Your  griefs  and  mine  are  nothing  in  comparison 
with  his.  Had  I  loved  him  more  I  should  have  killed  him. 
Something  that  is  not  of  this  world  nor  in  this  world  attracts 
him,  and  calls  him,  and  will  take  no  denial ;  he  cannot  rest  by 
night  or  by  day;  and,  like  a  heliotrope  in  a  cellar,  he  twists 
himself  that  he  may  turn  towards  the  sun  that  he  does  not  see. 
He  is  one  of  those  men  whose  soul  was  not  dipped  com- 
pletely enough  in  the  waters  of  Lethe  before  being  united  to 
his  body  ;  from  the  heaven  whence  it  comes  it  preserves 
recollections  of  eternal  beauty  which  harass  and  torment  it,  and 
it  remembers  that  it  once  hud  wings,  and  now  has  only  feet.  If 
I  were  God,  the  angel  guilty  of  such  negligence  should  be 
deprived  of  poetry  for  two  eternities.  Instead  of  having  to 
build  a  castle  of  brilliantly  coloured  cards  to  shelter  a  fair 
young  fantasy  for  a  single  spring,  a  tower  should  have  been 
built  more  lofty  than  the  eight  superposed  temples  of  Belus. 
I  was  not  strong  enough,  I  appeared  not  to  have  understood 
him,  I  let  him  creep  on  his  pinions  and  seek  for  a  summit 
whence  he  might  spring  into  the  immensity  of  space. 

"  He  believes  that  I  have  seen  nothing  of  all  this  because  I 
have  lent  myself  to  all  his  caprices  without  seeming  to  suspect 
their  aim.  Being  unable  to  cure  him,  I  wished,  and  I  hope 
that  this  will  be  taken  into  account  some  day  before  God,  to 
give  him  at  least  the  happiness  of  believing  that  he  had  been 


158  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

passionately  loved.  He  inspired  me  with  sufficient  pity  and 
interest  to  enable  me  to  assume  with  him  tones  and  manners 
tender  enough  to  delude  him.  I  played  my  part  like  a 
consummate  actress  ;  I  was  sportive  and  melancholy,  sensitive 
and  voluptuous  ;  I  feigned  disquiet  and  jealousy ;  I  shed  false 
tears,  and  called  to  my  lips  swarms  of  affected  smiles.  I 
attired  this  puppet  of  love  in  the  richest  stuffs ;  I  made  it 
walk  in  the  avenues  of  my  parks  ;  I  invited  all  my  birds  to  sing 
as  it  passed,  and  all  my  dahlias  and  daturas  to  salute  it  by 
bending  their  heads ;  I  had  it  cross  my  lake  on  the  silvery 
back  of  my  darling  swan ;  I  concealed  myself  within,  and  lent 
it  my  voice,  my  wit,  my  beauty,  my  youth,  and  gave  it  so 
seductive  an  appearance  that  the  reality  was  not  so  good  as 
my  falsehood. 

"  When  the  time  comes  to  shiver  this  hollow  statue  I  shall 
do  it  in  such  a  way  that  he  will  believe  all  the  wrong  to  be  on 
my  side,  and  will  be  spared  remorse.  I  shall  myself  give  the 
prick  of  the  pin  through  which  the  air  that  fills  this  balloon  will 
escape.  Is  this  not  meritorious  and  honourable  deception? 
I  have  a  crystal  urn  containing  a  few  tears  which  I  collected 
at  the  moment  when  they  were  about  to  fall.  They  are  my 
jewel-box  and  diamonds,  and  I  shall  present  them  to-  the  angel 
who  comes  to  take  me  away  to  God." 

THEODORE — "  They  are  the  most  beautiful  that  could  shine 
on  a  woman's  neck.  The  ornaments  of  a  queen  have  less 
value.  For  my  part  I  think  that  the  liquid  poured  by  Magdalene 
upon  the  feet  of  Christ  was  made  up  of  the  former  tears  of 
those  whom  she  had  comforted,  and  I  think,  too,  that  it  is  with 
such  tears  as  these  that  the  Milky  Way  is  strewn,  and  not,  as 
was  pretended,  with  Juno's  milk.  Who  will  do  for  you  what 
you  have  done  for  him  ?  " 

ROSETTE — "  No  one,  alas  !  since  you  cannot." 

THEODORE — "Ah !  dear  soul !  to  think  that  I  cannot !  But  do 
not  lose  hope.  You  are  still  beautiful,  and  very  young.  You  have 
many  avenues  of  flowering  limes  and  acacias  to  traverse  before 
you  reach  the  damp  road  bordered  with  box  and  leafless  trees, 
which  leads  from  the  porphyry  tomb  where  your  beautiful  dead 


MADEMOISELLE  UE  MAUPIN.  159 

years  will  be  buried,  to  the  tomb  of  rough  and  moss-covered 
stone  into  which  they  will  hastily  thrust  the  remains  of  what 
was  once  you,  and  the  wrinkled,  tottering  spectres  of  the  days 
of  your  old  age.  Much  of  the  mountain  of  life  is  still  left  for 
you  to  climb,  and  it  will  be  long  ere  you  come  to  the  zone  of 
snow.  You  have  only  arrived  at  the  region  of  aromatic  plants, 
of  limpid  cascades  wherein  the  iris  hangs  her  tri-coloured  arch,  of 
beautiful  green  oaks  and  scented  larches.  Mount  a  little  higher, 
and  from  there,  on  the  wider  horizon  which  will  be  displayed  at 
your  feet,  you  shall  perhaps  see  the  bluish  smoke  rising  from  the 
roof  where  sleeps  the  man  who  is  to  love  you.  Life  must  not 
be  despaired  of  at  the  very  beginning ;  vistas  of  what  we  had 
ceased  to  look  for  are  opened  up  thus  in  our  destiny. 

"  Man  in  his  life  has  often  reminded  me  of  a  pilgrim  following 
the  snail-like  staircase  in  a  Gothic  tower.  The  long  granite  ser- 
pent winds  its  coils  in  the  darkness,  each  scale  being  a  step. 
After  a  few  circumvolutions  the  little  light  that  came  from  the 
door  is  extinguished.  The  shadow  of  the  houses  that  are  not 
passed  as  yet,  prevents  the  air-holes  from  letting  in  the  sun. 
The  walls  are  black  and  oozy  ;  it  is  more  like  going  down  into 
a  dungeon  never  to  come  forth  again  than  ascending  to  the  turret 
which  from  below  appeared  to  you  so  slender  and  fine,  ana 
covered  with  laces  and  embroideries  as  though  it  were  setting 
out  for  a  ball. 

"You  hesitate  as  to  whether  you  ought  to  go  higher,  this 
damp  darkness  weighs  so  heavily  on  your  brow.  The  staircase 
makes  some  further  turns  and  more  frequent  lutherns  cut  out 
their  golden  trefoils  on  the  opposite  wall.  You  begin  to  see  the 
indented  gables  of  the  houses,  the  sculptures  in  the  entablatures, 
and  the  whimsical  shapes  of  the  chimneys ;  a  few  steps  more 
and  the  eye  looks  down  upon  the  entire  town ;  it  is  a  forest  of 
spires,  steeples  and  towers  which  bristle  up  in  every  direction, 
indented,  slashed,  hollowed,  punched  and  allowing  the  light  to 
appear  through  their  thousand  cuttings.  The  domes  and  cupolas 
are  rounded  like  the  breasts  of  some  giantess  or  the  skulls 
of  Titans.  The  islets  of  houses  and  palaces  stand  out  in  shaded 
or  luminous  slices.  A  few  steps  more  and  you  will  be  on  the 


160  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

platform ;  and  then,  beyond  the  town  walls,  you  will  see  the  ver- 
dant cultivation,  the  blue  hills  and  the  white  sails  on  the  clouded 
ribbon  of  the  river. 

"  You  are  flooded  with  dazzling  light,  and  the  swallows  pass 
and  repass  near  you,  uttering  little  joyous  cries.  The  distant 
sound  of  the  city  reaches  you  like  a  friendly  murmur,  or  the 
buzzing  of  a  hive  of  bees ;  all  the  bells  strip  their  necklaces 
of  sonorous  pearls  in  the  air ;  the  winds  waft  to  you  the  scents 
from  the  neighbouring  forest  and  from  the  mountain  flowers ; 
there  is  nothing  but  light,  harmony  and  perfume.  If  your  feet  had 
become  weary,  or  if  you  had  been  seized  with  discouragement 
and  had  remained  seated  on  a  lower  step,  or  if  you  had  gone 
down  again  altogether,  this  sight  would  have  been  lost  to  you. 

"  Sometimes,  however,  the  tower  has  only  a  single  opening 
in  the  middle  or  above.  The  tower  of  your  life  is  constructed 
in  this  way ;  then  there  is  need  of  more  obstinate  courage,  of 
perseverance  armed  with  nails  that  are  more  hooked,  so  as  to 
cling  in  the  shadow  to  the  projections  of  the  stones  and  reach 
the  resplendent  trefoil  through  which  the  sight  may  escape  over 
the  country ;  or  perhaps  the  loop-holes  have  been  filled  up,  or 
the  making  of  them  has  been  forgotten,  and  then  it  is  necessary 
to  ascend  to  the  summit ;  but  the  higher  you  mount  without 
seeing,  the  more  immense  seems  the  horizon,  and  the  greater  is 
the  pleasure  and  the  surprise." 

ROSETTE — "  O  Theodore,  God  grant  that  I  may  soon  come 
to  the  place  where  the  window  is  !  I  have  been  following  the 
spiral  for  a  long  time  through  the  profoundest  night ;  but  I  am 
afraid  that  the  opening  has  been  built  up  and  that  I  must  climb 
to  the  summit;  and  what  if  this  staircase  with  its  countless 
steps  were  only  to  lead  to  a  walled-up  door  or  a  vault  of 
freestone  ?  " 

THEODORE — "Do  not  say  that,  Rosette;  do  not  think  it. 
What  architect  would  construct  a  staircase  that  should  lead  to 
nothing]?  Why  suppose  the  gentle  architect  of  the  world  more 
stupid  and  improvident  than  an  ordinary  architect  ?  God  does 
not  mistake,  and  He  forgets  nothing.  It  is  incredible  that  He 
should  amuse  Himself  by  shutting  you  up  in  a  long  stone  tube 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  161 

without  outlet  or  opening,  in  order  to  play  you  a  trick.  Why  do 
you  think  that  He  should  grudge  poor  ants  such  as  we  are  their 
wretched  happiness  of  a  minute,  and  the  imperceptible  grain  of 
millet  that  falls  to  them  in  this  broad  creation  ?  To  do  that  He 
should  have  the  ferocity  of  a  tiger  or  a  judge ;  and,  if  we  were 
so  displeasing  to  Him,  He  would  only  have  to  tell  a  comet  to 
turn  a  little  from  its  path  and  strangle  us  with  a  hair  of  its  tail. 
Why  the  deuce  do  you  think  that  God  would  divert  Himself  by 
threading  us  one  by  one  on  a  golden  pin,  as  the  Emperor 
Domitian  used  to  treat  flies  ?  God  is  not  a  portress,  nor  a 
churchwarden,  and  although  He  is  old  He  has  not  yet  fallen 
into  childishness.  All  such  petty  viciousness  is  beneath  Him, 
and  He  is  not  silly  enough  to  try  to  be  witty  with  us  and  play 
pranks  with  us.  Courage,  Rosette,  courage  !  If  you  are  out  of 
breath,  stop  a  little  to  recover  it,  and  then  continue  your  ascent : 
you  have,  perhaps,  only  twenty  steps  to  climb  in  order  to  reach 
the  embrasure  whence  you  will  see  your  happiness." 

ROSETTE — "  Never  !  oh,  never !  and  if  I  come  to  the  sum- 
mit of  the  tower,  it  will  be  only  to  cast  myself  from  it." 

THEODORE — "  Drive  away,  poor  afflicted  one,  these  gloomy 
thoughts  which  hover  like  bats  about  you,  and  shed  the  opaque 
shadow  of  their  wings  upon  your  brow.  If  you  wish  me  to  love 
you,  be  happy,  and  do  not  weep."  (He  draws  her  gently  to 
him  and  kisses  her  on  the  eyes). 

ROSETTE — "What  a  misfortune  it  is  to  me  to  have  known 
you  !  and  yet,  were  it  to  be  done  over  again,  I  should  still  wish 
to  have  known  you.  Your  severity  has  been  sweeter  to  me  than 
the  passion  of  others;  and,  although  you  have  caused  me  much 
suffering,  all  the  pleasure  that  I  have  had  has  come  to  me  from 
you ;  through  you  I  have  had  a  glimpse  of  what  I  might  have 
been.  You  have  been  a  lightning-flash  in  my  night,  and  you 
have  lit  up  many  of  the  dark  places  of  my  soul ;  you  have 
opened  up  vistas  in  my  life  that  are  quite  new.  To  you  I  owe  the 
knowledge  of  love,  unhappy  love,  it  is  true ;  but  there  is  a  deep 
and  melancholy  charm  in  loving  without  being  loved,  and  it  is 
good  to  remember  those  who  forget  us.  It  is  a  happiness  to  be 
able  to  love  even  when  you  are  the  only  one  who  loves,  and 


1 62  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

many  die  without  having  experienced  it,  and  often  the  most  to 
be  pitied  are  not  those  who  love." 

THEODORE — "  They  suffer  txrtd  feel  their  wounds,  but  at  least 
they  live.  They  hold  to  something ;  they  have  a  star  around 
which  they  gravitate,  a  pole  to  which  they  eagerly  tend.  They 
have  something  to  wish  for ;  they  can  say  to  themselves  :  '  If  I 
arrive  there,  if  I  have  that,  I  shall  be  happy.'  They  have 
frightful  agonies,  but  when  dying  they  can  at  least  say  to 
themselves  :  { I  die  for  him.'  To  die  thus  is  to  be  born  again. 
The  really,  the  only  irreparably  unhappy  ones  are  those  whose 
foolish  embrace  takes  in  the  entire  universe,  those  who  wish 
for  everything  and  wish  for  nothing,  and  who,  if  angel  or  fairy 
were  to  descend  and  say  suddenly  to  them  :  '  Wish  for  some- 
thing and  you  shall  have  it,'  would  be  embarrassed  and  mute." 
ROSETTE — "  If  the  fairy  came,  I  know  what  I  should  ask  her." 
THEODORE — "  You  do,  Rosette,  and  in  that  respect  you  are 
more  fortunate  than  I,  for  I  do  not.  Vague  desires  stir  within 
me  which  blend  together,  and  give  birth  to  others  which  after- 
wards devour  them.  My  desires  are  a  cloud  of  birds  whirling 
and  hovering  aimlessly ;  your  desire  is  an  eagle  who  has  his 
eyes  on  the  sun,  and  who  is  prevented  by  the  lack  of  air  from 
rising  on  his  outstretched  wings.  Ah  !  if  I  could  know  what  I 
want ;  if  the  idea  which  pursues  me  would  extricate  itself  clear 
and  precise  from  the  fog  that  envelops  it ;  if  the  fortunate  or 
fatal  star  would  appear  in  the  depths  of  my  sky ;  if  the  light 
which  I  am  to  follow,  whether  perfidious  will-o'-the-wisp  or 
hospitable  beacon,  would  come  and  be  radiant  in  the  night ; 
if  my  pillar  of  fire  would  go  before  me,  even  though  it  were 
across  a  desert  without  manna  and  without  springs  ;  if  I  knew 
whither  I  am  going,  though  I  were  only  to  come  to  a  precipice  ! 
— I  would  rather  have  the  mad  riding  of  accursed  huntsmen 
through  quagmires  and  thickets  than  this  absurd  and  monotonous 
movement  of  the  feet.  To  live  in  this  way  is  to  follow  a  calling 
like  that  of  those  horses  which  turn  the  wheel  of  some  well  with 
bandaged  eyes,  and  travel  thousands  of  leagues  without  seeing 
anything  or  changing  their  situation.  I  have  been  turning  for  a 
long  time,  and  the  bucket  should  have  quite  come  up.' 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  ,63 

ROSETTE — "You  have  many  points  of  resemblance  with 
D'Albert,  and  when  you  speak  it  seems  to  me  sometimes  as 
though  he  were  the  speaker.  I  have  no  doubt  that  when  you 
are  further  acquainted  with  him  you  will  become  much  attached 
to  him  ;  you  cannot  fail  to  suit  each  other.  He  is  harassed  as 
you  are  by  these  aimless  flights ;  he  loves  immensely  without 
knowing  what,  he  would  ascend  to  heaven,  for  the  earth  appears 
to  him  a  stool  scarcely  good  enough  for  one  of  his  feet,  and  he 
has  more  pride  than  Lucifer  had  before  his  fall." 

THEODORE — "  I  was  at  first  afraid  that  he  was  one  of  those 
numerous  poets  who  have  driven  poetry  from  the  earth,  one  of 
those  stringers  of  sham  pearls  who  can  see  nothing  in  the  world 
but  the  last  syllables  of  words,  and  who  when  they  have  rhymed 
glade  with  shade,  flame  with  name,  and  God  with  trod,  conscien- 
tiously cross  their  legs  and  arms  and  suffer  the  spheres  to  com- 
plete their  revolution." 

ROSETTE — "  He  is  not  one  of  those.  His  verses  are  inferior 
to  him  and  do  not  contain  him.  What  he  has  written  would 
give  you  a  very  false  idea  of  his  own  person ;  his  true  poem  is 
himself,  and  I  do  not  know  whether  he  will  ever  compose 
another.  In  the  recesses  of  his  soul  he  has  a  seraglio  of  beauti- 
ful ideas  which  he  surrounds  with  a  triple  wall,  and  of  which  he 
is  more  jealous  than  was  ever  sultan  of  his  odalisques.  He 
only  puts  those  into  his  verses  which  he  does  not  care  about  or 
which  have  repulsed  him ;  it  is  the  door  through  which  he  drives 
them  away,  and  the  world  has  only  those  which  he  will  keep  no 
longer." 

THEODORE — "  I  can  understand  this  jealousy  and  shame. 
In  the  same  way  many  people  do  not  acknowledge  the  love  they 
had  until  they  have  it  no  longer,  nor  their  mistresses  until  they 
are  dead." 

ROSETTE — "  It  is  so  difficult  to  alone  possess  a  thing  in  this 
world!  every  torch  attracts  so  many  butterflies,  and  every  treasure 
so  many  thieves  !  I  like  those  silent  ones  who  carry  their  idea 
into  their  grave,  and  will  not  surrender  it  to  the  foul  kisses  and 
shameless  touches  of  the  crowd.  I  am  delighted  with  the  lovers 
who  do  not  write  their  mistress's  name  on  any  bark,  nor  confide 


.64 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 


it  to  any  echo,  and  who,  when  sleeping,  are  pursued  by  the  dread 
lest  they  should  utter  it  in  a  dream.  I  am  one  of  the  number  ; 
I  have  never  spoken  my  thought,  and  none  shall  know  my  love 
— but  see,  it  is  nearly  eleven  o'clock,  my  dear  Theodore,  and  I 
am  preventing  you  from  taking  the  rest  that  you  must  need. 
When  I  am  obliged  to  leave  you,  I  always  feel  a  heaviness  of 
heart,  and  it  seems  to  me  the  last  time  that  I  shall  see  you.  I 
delay  the  parting  as  much  as  possible ;  but  one  must  part  at 
last.  Well,  good-bye,  for  I  am  afraid  that  D' Albert  will  be  look- 
ing for  me  ;  dear  friend,  good-bye." 

Theodore  put  his  arm  about  her  waist,  and  led  her  thus  to 
the  door  ;  there  he  stopped  following  her  for  a  long  time  with 
his  gaze  ;  the  corridor  was  pierced  at  wide  intervals  with  little 
narrow-paned  windows,  which  were  lit  up  by  the  moon,  and 
made  a  very  fantastic  alternation  of  light  and  shade.  At  each 
window  Rosette's  white,  pure  form  shone  like  a  silver  phantom  ; 
then  it  would  vanish  to  reappear  with  greater  brilliance  a  little 
further  off;  at  last  it  disappeared  altogether. 

Theodore,  seemingly  lost  in  deep  thought,  remained  motion- 
less for  a  few  minutes  with  folded  arms ;  then  he  passed  his 
hand  over  his  forehead  and  threw  back  his  hair  with  a  movement 
of  his  head,  re-entered  the  room,  and  went  to  bed  after  kissing 
the  brow  of  the  page  who  was  still  asleep. 


VII. 


S  soon  as  it  was  light  at  Rosette's,  D'Albert  had 
himself  announced  with  a  promptness  that  was 
not  usual  with  him. 

"  Here  you  are,"  said  Rosette,  "  and  I  should 
say  you  early,  if  you  could  ever  come  early.  And  so,  to  reward 
you  for  your  gallantry,  I  grant  you  my  hand  to  kiss." 

And  from  beneath  the  lace-trimmed  sheet  of  Flanders  linen, 
she  drew  the  prettiest  little  hand  that  was  ever  seen  at  the  end 
of  a  round,  plump  arm. 

D'Albert  kissed  it  with  compunction. 

"  And  the  other  one,  its  little  sister,  are  we  not  to  kiss  it  as 
well  ?  " 

"  Oh,  dear,  yes  !  nothing  more  feasible.  I  am  in  my  Sunday 
humour  to-day;  here."  And,  bringing  her  other  hand  out  of  the 
bed,  she  tapped  him  lightly  on  the  mouth.  "  Am  I  not  the  most 
accommodating  woman  in  the  world  ?  " 

"  You  are  grace  itself,  and  should  have  white  marble  temples 
raised  to  you  in  myrtle  groves.  Indeed  I  am  much  afraid  that 
there  will  happen  to  you  what  happened  to  Psyche,  and  that 
Venus  will  become  jealous  of  you,"  said  D'Albert  joining  both 
the  hands  of  the  fair  one  and  carrying  them  together  to  his  lips. 

"  How  you  deliver  all  that  in  a  breath  !  One  would  say  that 
it  was  a  phrase  you  had  learnt  by  heart,"  said  Rosette  with  a 
delicious  little  pout. 

"Not  at  all :  you  are  quite  worthy  of  having  a  phrase  turned 
expressly  for  you,  and  you  are  made  to  pluck  the  virginity  ot 
madrigals,"  retorted  D'Albert. 

"  Oh,  indeed  !  really — what  makes  you  so  lively  to  day?  Are 


i66  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

you  ill  that  you  are  so  polite  ?  I  fear  that  you  will  die.  Do 
you  know  that  it  is  a  bad  sign  when  anyone  changes  his  character 
all  at  once  with  no  apparent  reason  ?  Now,  it  is  an  established 
fact,  in  the  eyes  of  all  the  women  who  have  taken  the  trouble 
to  love  you,  that  you  are  usually  as  cross  as  you  can  be,  and  it 
is  no  less  certain  that  at  this  moment  you  are  as  charming  as 
one  can  be,  and  are  displaying  most  inexplicable  amiability. 
There.  I  do  think  that  you  are  looking  pale,  my  poor  D'Albert ; 
give  me  your  arm,  that  I  may  feel  your  pulse."  And  she  drew 
up  hi?  sleeve  and  counted  the  beats  with  comical  gravity.  "  No, 
you  are  as  well  as  possible,  without  the  slightest  symptom  of 
fever.  Then  I  must  be  furiously  pretty  this  morning !  Just  get 
me  my  mirror,  and  let  me  see  how  far  your  gallantry  is  right  or 
wrong." 

D'Albert  took  up  a  little  mirror  that  was  on  the  toilet-table 
and  laid  it  on  the  bed. 

"  In  point  of  fact,"  said  Rosette,  "  you  are  not  altogether 
wrong.  Why  do  you  not  make  a  sonnet  on  my  eyes,  sir  poet  ? 
You  have  no  reason  for  not  doing  so.  Just  see  how  unfortunate 
1  am !  to  have  eyes  like  that  and  a  poet  like  this,  and  yet  to  be  in 
want  of  sonnets,  as  though  I  were  one-eyed  with  a  water-carrier 
for  my  lover  !  You  do  not  love  me,  sir ;  you  have  not  even 
written  me  an  acrostic  sonnet.  And  what  do  you  think  of  my 
mouth  ?  Yet  I  have  kissed  you  with  that  mouth,  and  shall, 
perhaps,  do  so  again,  my  handsome  gloomy  one  ;  and,  indeed, 
it  is  a  favour  that  you  scarcely  deserve  (this  is  not  meant 
for  to-day,  for  you  deserve  everything);  but  not  to  be 
always  talking  about  myself,  you  have  unparalleled  beauty  and 
freshness  this  morning,  you  look  like  a  brother  of  Aurora  ;  and 
although  it  is  scarcely  light  you  are  already  dressed  and  got 
up  as  though  you  were  going  to  a  ball.  Perchance  you  have 
designs  upon  me  ?  would  you  deal  a  treacherous  blow  at  my 
virtue  ?  do  you  wish  to  make  a  conquest  of  me  ?  But  I  forgot 
that  that  was  done  already,  and  is  now  ancient  history." 

"  Rosette,  do  not  jest  in  that  way ;  you  know  very  well  that 
1  love  you." 

11  Why,  that  depends.    I  don't  know  it  very  well ;  and  you  ?'* 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  167 

"  Perfectly ;  and  so  true  is  it  that  if  you  were  so  kind  as  to 
forbid  your  door  to  everybody,  I  should  endeavour  to  prove  it 
to  you,  and,  I  venture  to  flatter  myself,  in  a  victorious  fashion." 

"  As  for  that,  no  ;  however  much  I  may  wish  to  be 
convinced,  my  door  shall  remain  open ;  I  am  too  pretty  to  have 
closed  doors  ;  the  sun  shines  for  everybody,  and  my  beauty 
shall  be  like  the  sun  to-day,  if  you  have  no  objection." 

"  But  I  have,  on  my  honour  j  however,  act  as  though  I 
thought  it  excellent.  I  am  your  very  humble  slave,  and  I  lay 
my  wishes  at  your  feet." 

"  That  is  quite  right ;  continue  to  have  sentiments  of  the  kind, 
and  leave  the  key  in  your  door  this  evening." 

"  The  Chevalier  The'odore  de  Sdrannes,"  said  a  big  negro's 
head,  smiling  and  chubby-faced,  appearing  between  the  leaves 
of  the  folding-door,  "wishes  to  pay  his  respects  to  you  and 
entreats  you  to  condescend  to  receive  him." 

"Ask  the  chevalier  to  come  in,"  said  Rosette  drawing  up 
the  sheet  to  her  chin. 

The'odore  first  went  up  to  Rosette's  bed  and  made  her  a  most 
profound  and  graceful  bow,  to  which  she  returned  a  friendly 
nod,  and  then  turned  towards  D'Albert,  and  saluted  him  also 
with  a  free  and  courteous  air. 

"  Where  were  you  ?"  said  The'odore.  "  I  have  perhaps  inter- 
rupted an  interesting  conversation.  Pray  continue,  and  acquaint 
me  with  the  subject  of  it  in  a  few  words." 

"Oh,  no!"  replied  Rosette  with  a  mischevious  smile;  "we 
were  talking  of  business." 

The'odore  sat  down  at  the  foot  of  Rosette's  bed,  for  D'Albert 
had  placed  himself  beside  the  pillow,  as  being  the  first  arrival ; 
the  conversation  wandered  for  some  time  from  subject  to  sub- 
ject, and  was  very  witty,  very  gay  and  very  lively,  which  is  the 
reason  why  we  shall  not  give  any  account  of  it ;  we  should  be 
afraid  that  it  would  lose  too  much  if  transcribed.  Mien,  accent, 
fire  in  speech  and  gesture,  the  thousand  ways  of  pronouncing  a 
word,  all  the  spirit  of  it,  like  the  foam  of  champagne  which 
sparkles  and  evaporates  immediately,  are  things  that  it  is  im- 
possible to  fix  and  reproduce.  It  is  a  lacuna  which  we  leave  to 


168  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

be  filled  up  by  the  reader,  and  with  which  he  will  assuredly  deal 
better  than  we ;  let  him  here  imagine  five  or  six  pages  filled 
with  everything  of  the  most  delicate,  most  capricious,  most  cur- 
iously fantastical,  most  elegant  and  most  glittering  description. 

We  are  aware  that  we  are  here  employing  an  artifice  which 
tends  to  recall  that  of  Timanthes  who,  despairing  of  his  ability 
to  adequately  represent  Agamemnon's  face,  threw  a  drapery 
over  his  head  ;  but  we  would  rather  be  timid  than  imprudent 

It  might  perhaps  be  to  the  purpose  to  inquire  into  the  motives 
which  had  prompted  D'Albert  to  get  up  so  early  in  the  morning, 
and  the  incentive  which  had  induced  him  to  visit  Rosette  as 
early  as  if  he  had  been  still  in  love  with  her.  It  looked  as 
though  it  were  a  slight  impulse  of  secret  and  unacknowledged 
jealousy.  He  was  certainly  not  much  attached  to  Rosette,  and 
he  would  even  have  been  very  glad  to  get  rid  of  her,  but  he 
wished  at  least  to  give  her  up  himself  and  not  to  be  given  up 
by  her,  a  thing  which  never  fails  to  wound  a  man's  pride  deeply, 
however  well  extinguished  his  first  flame  may  otherwise  be. 

Theodore  was  such  a  handsome  cavalier  that  it  was  difficult 
to  see  him  appearing  in  a  connection  without  being  appre- 
hensive of  what  had,  in  fact,  often  happened  already,  apprehen- 
sive, that  is,  lest  all  eyes  should  be  turned  upon  him  and  all 
hearts  follow  the  eyes  ;  and  it  was  a  singular  thing  that,  although 
he  had  carried  off  many  women,  no  lover  had  ever  maintained 
towards  him  the  lasting  resentment  which  is  usually  entertained 
towards  those  who  have  supplanted  you.  In  all  his  ways  there 
was  such  a  conquering  charm,  such  natural  grace,  and  some- 
thing so  sweet  and  proud,  that  even  men  were  sensible  of  it 
D'Albert,  who  had  come  to  see  Rosette  with  the  intention  of 
speaking  to  Theodore  with  tartness,  should  he  meet  him  there, 
was  quite  surprised  to  find  himself  free  from  the  slightest  impulse 
of  anger  in  his  presence,  and  so  ready  to  receive  the  advance* 
that  were  made  to  him. 

At  the  end  of  half-an-hour  you  would  have  thought  them 
friends  from  childhood,  and  yet  D'Albert  had  an  intimate  con- 
viction that  if  Rosette  was  ever  to  love,  it  would  be  this  man,  and 
he  had  every  reason  to  be  jealous  at  least  for  the  future,  for  as 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  169 

to  the  present,  he  had  as  yet  no  suspicion  ;  what  would  it  have 
been  had  he  seen  the  fair  one  in  a  white  dressing-gown  gliding 
like  a  moth  on  a  moon-ray  into  the  handsome  youth's  room, 
and  not  coming  out  until  three  or  four  hours  afterwards  with 
mysterious  precautions  ?  He  might  truly  have  thought  him- 
self more  unfortunate  than  he  was,  for  one  of  the  things  that  we 
scarcely  ever  see  is  a  pretty,  amorous  woman  coming  out  of  the 
chamber  of  an  equally  pretty  cavalier  exactly  as  she  went  in. 

Rosette  listened  to  Theodore  with  great  attention,  and  in  the 
way  that  people  listen  to  someone  whom  they  love  ;  but  what 
he  said  was  so  amusing  and  varied,  that  this  attention  seemed 
only  natural  and  was  easy  of  explanation.  Accordingly  D'Albert 
did  not  take  umbrage  at  it.  Theodore's  manner  towards 
Rosette  was  polished  and  friendly,  but  nothing  more. 

"  What  shall  we  do  to-day,  Theodore  ? "  said  Rosette ; 
"  suppose  we  take  a  sail  ?  what  do  you  think  ?  or  we  might 
go  hunting  ?  " 

"  Let  us  go  hunting,  it  is  less  melancholy  than  gliding  over 
the  water  side  by  side  with  some  languid  swan,  and  bending  the 
leaves  of  the  water-lilies  right  and  left, — is  that  not  your  opinion, 
D'Albert  ?  " 

"  I  might  perhaps  prefer  to  flow  along  in  the  boat  with  1:he 
current  of  the  stream  to  galloping  desperately  in  puisuit  of  a 
poor  beast ;  but  I  will  go  where  you  go.  We  have  now  only  to 
let  Madame  Rosette  get  up,  and  assume  a  suitable  costume." 

Rosette  gave  a  sign  of  assent,  and  rang  to  have  herself 
dressed.  The  two  young  men  went  off  arm-in-aim,  and  it 
was  easy  to  guess,  seeing  them  so  friendly  together,  that  one 
was  the  formal  lover  and  the  other  the  beloved  lover  of  the 
same  person. 

Everyone  was  soon  ready.  D'Albert  and  The'odore  were 
already  mounted  in  the  first  court  when  Rosette  appeared  in 
a  riding-habit,  on  the  top  of  the  flight  of  steps.  She  had  a 
little  sprightly  and  easy  air  in  this  costume  which  became  her 
very  well.  She  leaped  upon  the  saddle  with  her  usual  agility, 
and  gave  a  switch  to  her  horse  which  started  off  like  an  arrow, 
D'Albert  struck  in  both  his  spurs  and  soon  rejoined  her, 

L 


170  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

Theodore  allowed  them  to  get  some  way  ahead,  being  sure 
of  catching  them  up  as  soon  as  he  wished  to  do  so.  He 
seemed  to  be  waiting  for  something,  and  often  looked  round 
towards  the  mansion. 

"  Theodore,  Theodore,  come  on !  are  you  riding  a  wooden 
horse  ?"  cried  Rosette. 

Theodore  gave  his  animal  a  gallop,  and  diminished  the 
distance  separating  him  from  Rosette,  without,  however,  causing 
it  to  disappear. 

He  again  looked  towards  the  mansion  of  which  they  were 
beginning  to  lose  sight ;  a  little  whirlwind  of  dust,  in  which  some- 
thing that  could  not  yet  be  discerned  was  in  very  hasty  motion, 
appeared  at  the  end  of  the  road.  In  a  few  moments  it  was  at 
Theodore's  side,  and  opening  up,  like  the  classic  clouds  in  the 
Iliad,  displayed  the  fresh  and  rosy  face  of  the  mysterious  page. 

"  Theodore,  corne  along ! "  cried  Rosette  a  second  time, 
"  give  your  tortoise  the  spur  and  come  up  beside  us." 

The'odore  gave  the  rein  to  his  horse  which  was  pawing  and 
rearing  with  impatience,  and  in  a  few  seconds  he  was  several 
heads  in  advance  of  D'Albert  and  Rosette. 

"  Whoever  loves  me  will  follow  me,"  said  Theodore,  leaping 
a  fence  four  feet  high.  "  Well,  sir  poet,"  he  said,  when  he  was 
on  the  other  side,  "you  do  not  jump?  Yet  your  mount  has 
wings,  so  people  say." 

"  Faith  !  I  would  rather  go  round ;  I  have  only  one  head  to 
break  after  all ;  if  I  had  several  I  should  try,"  replied  D'Albevt, 
smiling. 

"Nobody  loves  me  then,  since  nobody  follows  me,"  said 
Theodore  drawing  down  the  arched  corners  of  his  mouth  even 
more  than  usual.  The  little  page  raised  his  large  blue  eyes 
towards  him  with  a  look  of  reproach,  and  brought  his  heels 
against  his  horse's  sides. 

The  horse  gave  a  prodigious  bound. 

"Yes !  somebody,"  he  said  to  him  on  the  other  side  of  the 
fence. 

Rosette  cast  a  singular  look  upon  the  child  and  blushed  up 
to  her  eyes;  then,  giving  a  furious  stroke  with  her  whip  on  the 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  171 

neck  of  her  mare,  she  crossed  the  bar  of  apple-green  wood  which 
fenced  the  avenue. 

"And  I,  Theodore,  do  you  think  that  I  do  not  love  you?" 

The  child  cast  a  sly  side-glance  at  her,  and  drew  close  to 
The'odore. 

D' Albert  was  already  in  the  middle  of  the  avenue,  and  saw 
nothing  of  all  this ;  for,  from  time  immemorial,  fathers,  hus- 
bands, and  levers  have  been  possessed  of  the  privilege  of  seeing 
nothing. 

"  Isnabel,"  said  Theodore,  "  you  are  mad,  and  so  are  you 
Rosette  !  Isnabel,  you  did  not  take  sufficient  room  for  the 
leap,  and  you,  Rosette,  nearly  caught  your  dress  in  the  posts. 
You  might  have  killed  yourself." 

"  What  matter  ?"  replied  Rosette  with  an  accent  so  sad  and 
melancholy,  that  Isnabel  forgave  her  for  having  leaped  the 
fence  as  well. 

They  went  on  for  some  time  and  reached  the  cross-roads 
where  they  were  to  find  huntsmen  and  pack.  Six  arches  cut  in 
the  tbickness  of  the  forest  led  to  a  little  stone  tower  with  six 
side*,  on  each  of  which  was  engraved  the  name  of  the  road  that 
terminated  there.  The  trees  rose  to  such  a  height  that  it  seemed 
as  if  they  wished  to  card  the  fleecy,  flaky  clouds  sailing  over 
'heir  heads  before  a  somewhat  strong  breeze;  close,  high  grass 
and  impenetrable  bushes  afforded  retreats  and  fortresses  to  the 
game,  and  the  hunt  promised  to  be  a  success.  It  was  a  genuine 
old-world  forest,  with  ancient  oaks  more  than  a  century  old, 
such  as  are  to  be  seen  no  longer  now  that  we  plani  no  more 
trees,  and  have  not  patience  enough  to  wait  until  those  that  are 
planted  have  grown  up ;  a  hereditary  forest  planted  by  great- 
grandfathers for  the  fathers,  and  by  the  fathers  for  the  grand- 
sons, with  avenues  of  prodigious  breadth,  an  obelisk  surmounted 
by  a  ball,  a  rock-work  fountain,  the  indispensable  pond,  and 
white-powdered  keepers  in  yellow  leather  breeches  and  sky-blue 
coats ;  one  of  those  dark,  bushy  forests  wherein  stand  out  in 
admirable  relief  the  white  satiny  cruppers  of  the  great  horses  of 
Wouvermans,  and  the  broad  flags  on  the  Dampierre  horns,  which 
Parrocelli  loves  to  display  radiant  on  the  huntsmen's  backs. 


172  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

A  multitude  of  dog's  tails,  like  pruning  knives  or  hedge-bills 
were  curled  friskily  in  a  dusty  cloud.  The  signal  was  given,  the 
dogs,  which  were  straining  hard  enough  at  the  leash  to  strangle 
themselves  were  uncoupled,  and  the  hunt  began.  We  shall  not 
describe  very  minutely  the  turnings  and  windings  of  the  stae 
through  the  forest;  we  do  not  even  know  with  exactitude  whether 
it  was  a  full  grown  stag,  and  in  spite  of  all  our  researches  we 
have  not  been  able  to  ascertain,  which  is  really  distressing. 
Nevertheless  we  think  that  only  full  grown  stags  could  have 
been  found  in  such  a  forest,  so  ancient,  so  shady,  and  so  lordly, 
and  we  see  no  reason  why  the  animal  after  which  the  four 
principal  characters  of  this  illustrious  romance  were  galloping 
on  horses  of  different  colours  and  non  passibus  aequis,  should 
not  have  been  one. 

The  stag  ran  like  the  true  stag  that  he  was,  and  the  fifty  dogs 
at  his  heels  were  no  ordinary  spur  to  his  natural  swiftness.  The 
run  was  so  quick  that  only  a  few  rare  bays  were  to  be  heard. 

Theodore,  being  the  best  mounted  and  the  best  horseman, 
followed  hard  on  the  pack  with  incredible  eagerness.  D' Albert 
was  close  behind  him.  Rosette  and  the  little  page  Isnabel 
came  after,  separated  by  an  interval  which  was  increasing  every 
minute. 

The  interval  was  soon  so  great  as  to  take  away  all  hope  of 
restoring  an  equilibrium. 

"Suppose  we  stop  for  a  little,"  said  Rosette,  to  give  om 
horses  breath  ?  The  hunt  is  going  in  the  direction  of  the 
pond,  and  I  know  a  cross-road  which  will  take  us  there  as  soon 
as  they." 

Isnabel  drew  the  bridle  of  his  little  mountain  horse  which, 
shaking  the  hanging  locks  of  his  mane  over  his  eyes,  bent  his 
head,  and  began  to  scrape  the  sand  with  his  hoofs. 

This  little  horse  formed  the  most  perfect  contrast  with 
Rosette's :  he  was  as  black  as  night,  the  other  as  white  as  satin  j 
he  was  quite  shaggy  and  dishevelled,  the  other  had  its  mane 
plaited  with  blue,  and  its  tail  curled  and  crisped.  The  second 
looked  like  a  unicorn,  and  the  first  like  a  barbet. 

The  same  antithetical  difference  was  to  be  remarked  in  the 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  173 

masters  as  in  the  steeds.  Rosette's  hair  was  as  dark  as 
Isnabel's  was  fair  ;  her  eyebrows  were  very  neatly  traced  and  in 
a  very  apparent  manner ;  the  page's  were  scarcely  more  vigorous 
than  his  skin  and  resembled  the  down  on  a  peach.  The 
colour  of  the  one  was  brilliant  and  strong  like  the  light  of  noon; 
the  complexion  of  the  other  had  the  transparencies  and  blush- 
ings  of  the  dawn  of  day. 

"  Suppose  we  try  to  catch  up  the  hunt  now  ?"  said  Isnabel 
to  Rosette ;  "  the  horses  have  had  time  to  take  breath." 

"Come  along!"  replied  the  pretty  amazon,  and  they  started 
off  at  a  gallop  down  a  rather  narrow,  transverse  avenue  which 
led  to  the  pond ;  the  two  animals  were  abreast  and  took  up 
nearly  the  whole  breadth. 

On  Isnabel's  side  a  great  branch  projected  like  an  arm 
from  a  twisted  and  knotted  tree,  which  seemed  to  be  shaking 
its  fist  at  the  riders.  The  child  did  not  see  it. 

"  Take  care  ! "  cried  Rosette,  "  bend  down  on  your  saddle ! 
you  will  be  unhorsed ! " 

The  warning  had  been  given  tco  ate ;  the  branch  struck 
Isnabel  in  the  middle  of  the  body.  The  violence  of  the  blow 
made  him  lose  his  stirrups,  and,  as  his  horse  continued  to  gallop 
and  the  branch  was  too  strong  to  bend,  he  found  himself  lifted 
out  of  the  saddle  and  fell  heavily  behind. 

The  child  lay  senseless  from  the  blow.  Rosette,  greatly 
frightened,  threw  herself  from  her  horse,  and  hastened  to  the 
page  who  showed  no  signs  of  life. 

His  cap  had  fallen  off,  and  his  beautiful  fair  hair  streamed 
on  all  sides  in  disorder  en  -:he  sand.  His  little  open  hands 
looked  like  hands  of  wax,  so  pale  were  they.  Rosette  knelt 
down  beside  him  and  tried  to  restore  him.  She  had  neither 
salts  nor  flask  about  her,  and  her  perplexity  was  great.  At 
last  she  noticed  a  tolerably  deep  rut  in  which  the  rain-water 
had  collected  and  become  clear  ;  she  dipped  her  finger  into  it, 
to  the  great  terror  of  a  little  frog  who  was  the  naiad  of  this  sea, 
and  shook  a  few  drops  upon  the  bluish  temples  of  the  young 
page.  He  did  not  appear  to  feel  them,  and  the  water-pearls 
rolled  along  his  white  cheeks  like  a  sylphid's  tears  along  the 


174  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

leaf  of  a  lily.  Rosette,  thinking  that  his  clothes  might  distress 
him,  unfastened  his  belt,  undid  the  buttons  of  his  tightly-fitting 
coat  and  opened  his  shirt  that  his  breast  might  have  freer 
play. 

Rosette  there  saw  something  which  to  a  man  would  have 
been  one  of  the  most  agreeable  surprises  in  the  world,  but 
which  seemed  to  be  very  far  from  giving  her  pleasure — for  her 
eyebrows  drew  close  together,  and  her  upper  lip  trembled 
slightly — namely,  a  very  white  bosom,  scarcely  formed  as  yet, 
but  which  gave  admirable  promise,  and  was  already  fulfilling 
much  of  it ;  a  round,  polished  ivory  bosom, — to  speak  like  the 
Ronsardizers — delicious  to  see,  and  more  delicious  to  kiss. 

"  A  woman  ! "  she  said,  "a  woman  !  ah  !  Theodore  !  " 

Isnabel — for  we  shall  continue  to  give  him  this  name,  although 
it  was  not  his — began  to  breathe  a  little,  and  languidly  raised 
his  long  eyelashes ;  he  had  not  been  wounded  in  any  way,  but 
only  stunned.  He  soon  sat  up,  and  with  Rosette's  assistance 
was  able  to  stand  up  on  his  feet  and  remount  his  horse,  which 
had  stopped  as  soon  as  he  had  felt  that  his  rider  was  gone. 

They  proceeded  at  a  slow  pace  as  far  as  the  pond,  where 
they  did  in  fact  meet  again  with  the  rest  of  the  hunt.  Roseate, 
in  a  few  words,  related  to  Theodore  what  had  taken  place. 
The  latter  changed  colour  several  times  during  Rosette's 
narration,  and  kept  his  horse  beside  Isnabel's  for  the  re- 
mainder of  the  way. 

They  came  back  very  early  to  the  mansion ;  the  day  which 
had  commenced  so  joyously  ended  rather  sadly. 

Rosette  was  pensive,  and  D'Albett  seemed  also  to  be 
plunged  in  deep  thought  The  reader  will  soon  know  what 
had  occasioned  this. 


VIII. 


O,  my  dear  Silvio,  no,  I  have  not  forgotten  you ;  1 
am  not  one  of  those  who  pass  through  life  without 
ever  throwing  a  look  behind ;  my  past  follows  me 
and  invades  my  present,  and  almost  my  future ; 
your  friendship  is  one  of  the  sun-lit  spots  which  stand  out  most 
clearly  on  the  horizon  quite  blue  as  it  already  is  of  my  later 
years ;  often  do  I  turn  to  contemplate  it,  from  the  summit  I 
have  reached,  with  a  feeling  of  unspeakable  melancholy. 

"  Oh  !  what  a  glorious  time  was  that,  when  we  were  pure  as 
angels !  Our  feet  scarcely  touched  the  ground ;  we  had  as  it 
were  wings  upon  our  shoulders,  our  desires  swept  us  away,  and 
in  the  breeze  of  springtime  there  trembled  about  our  brows  the 
golden  glory  of  adolescence. 

"  Do  you  remember  the  little  island  planted  with  poplars  at 
that  part  where  the  river  branches  off?  To  reach  it,  it  was 
necessary  to  cross  a  somewhat  long  and  very  narrow  plank  which 
used  to  bend  strangely  in  the  middle ;  a  real  bridge  for  goats, 
and  one,  indeed,  which  was  scarcely  used  but  by  them :  it  was 
delicious.  Short  thick  grass  wherein  the  forget-me-not  blink- 
ingly  opened  its  pretty  little  blue  eyes,  a  path  as  yellow  as 
nankeen  which  formed  a  girdle  for  the  island's  green  robe  and 
clasped  its  waist,  while  an  ever  moving  shade  of  aspens  and 
poplars  were  not  the  least  of  the  delights  of  this  paradise. 
There  were  great  pieces  of  linen  which  the  women  would  come 
to  spread  out  to  bleach  in  the  dew ;  you  would  have  thought 
them  squares  of  snow  ; — and  that  little  girl  so  brown  and  sun- 
burnt whose  large  wild  eyes  shone  with  such  brilliant  splendour 
beneath  the  long  locks  of  her  hair,  and  who  .used  to  run  after 


1/6  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

the  goats  threatening  them  and  shaking  her  osier  rod  when 
they  made  as  though  they  would  walk  over  the  linens  that  were 
under  her  care — do  you  remember  her  ? 

"  And  the  sulphur-coloured  butterflies  with  unequal  and 
quivering  flight,  and  the  king-fisher  which  we  so  often  tried  to 
catch  and  which  had  its  nest  in  that  alder  thicket  ?  and  those 
paths  down  to  the  river,  with  their  rudely  hewn  steps  and  their 
posts  and  stakes  all  green  below,  which  were  nearly  always  shut 
in  by  screens  of  plants  and  boughs  ?  How  limpid  and  mirror- 
like  was  the  water !  how  clearly  could  we  see  the  bed  of  golden 
gravel !  and  what  a  pleasure  it  was,  seated  on  the  bank,  to  let  the 
tips  of  our  feet  dangle  in  it !  The  golden-flowered  water-lilies 
spreading  gracefully  upon  it  looked  like  green  hair  flowing  over 
the  agate  back  of  some  bathing  nymph.  The  sky  looked  at 
itself  in  this  mirror  with  azure  smiles  and  most  exquisite  trans- 
parencies of  pearl-gray,  and  at  all  hours  of  the  day  there  were 
turquoises,  spangles,  wools  and  moires  in  exhaustless  variety. 
How  I  loved  those  squadrons  of  little  ducks  with  the  emerald 
necks  which  used  to  sail  incessantly  from  one  bank  to  the  other 
making  wrinkles  across  the  pure  glass ! 

"  How  well  were  we  suited  to  be  the  figures  in  that  land- 
scape !  how  well  adapted  were  we  to  that  sweet  calm  nature,  and 
how  readily  did  we  harmonise  with  it !  Spring  without,  youth 
within,  sun  on  the  grass,  smiles  on  our  lips,  flakes  of  blossoms 
on  all  the  bushes,  fair  illusions  full-blown  in  our  souls,  modest 
blushes  on  our  cheeks  and  on  the  eglantine,  poetry  singing  in 
our  heart,  unseen  birds  warbling  in  the  trees,  light,  cooings, 
perfumes,  a  thousand  confused  murmurs,  the  heart  beating,  the 
water  stirring  a  pebble,  a  grass-blade  or  a  thought  upspringing, 
a  drop  of  water  flowing  along  a  flower-cup,  a  tear  overflowing 
along  an  eyelash,  a  sigh  of  love,  a  rustling  of  leaves  .... 
what  evenings  we  spent  there  walking  slowly,  and  so  close  to 
the  edge  that  we  had  often  one  foot  in  the  water  and  the  other 
on  the  ground ! 

"  Alas !  this  lasted  but  a  short  time,  with  me,  at  least,  for 
you  have  been  able,  while  acquiring  the  knowledge  of  the  man, 
to  preserve  the  purity  of  the  child.  The  germ  of  corruption 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  177 

that  was  in  me  has  developed  very  quickly,  and  the  gangrene 
has  pitilessly  devoured  all  of  me  that  was  pure  and  holy. 
Nothing  good  is  left  to  me  but  my  friendship  for  you. 

"1  am  accustomed  to  conceal  nothing  from  you,  neither 
actions  nor  thoughts.  The  most  secret  fibres  of  my  heart  I 
have  laid  bare  before  you ;  however  whimsical,  ridiculous,  and 
eccentric  the  impulses  of  my  soul  may  be,  I  must  describe 
them  to  you  $  but,  in  truth,  what  I  have  experienced  for  some 
time  is  so  strange,  that  I  scarcely  dare  to  acknowledge  it  to 
myself.  I  told  you  somewhere  that  I  feared  lest,  from  seeking 
the  beautiful  and  disquieting  myself  to  attain  it,  I  should  at  last 
fall  into  the  impossible  or  monstrous.  I  have  almost  come  to 
this ;  oh,  when  shall  I  emerge  from  all  these  currents  which 
conflict  together  and  draw  me  to  left  and  right ;  when  will  the 
deck  of  my  vessel  cease  to  tremble  beneath  my  feet  and  be 
swept  by  the  waves  of  all  these  storms  ?  where  shall  I  find  a 
harbour  where  I  may  cast  anchor,  and  a  rock  immovable  and 
beyond  the  reach  of  the  billows  where  I  may  dry  myself  and 
wring  the  foam  from  my  hair. 

"You  know  the  eagerness  with  which  I  have  sought  for 
physical  beauty,  the  importance  that  I  attach  to  external  form, 
and  the  love  of  the  visible  world  that  possesses  me.  I  cannot 
be  otherwise ;  I  am  too  corrupted  and  surfeited  to  believe  in 
moral  beauty,  and  to  pursue  it  with  any  consistency.  I  have 
completely  lost  the  knowledge  of  good  and  evil,  and  from  sheer 
depravity  have  almost  returned  to  the  ignorance  of  the  savage 
or  the  child.  In  truth,  nothing  appears  to  me  worthy  of  praise 
or  blame,  and  the  strangest  actions  astonish  me  but  little.  My 
conscience  is  deaf  and  dumb.  Adultery  appears  to  me  the  most 
innocent  thing  in  the  world ;  I  deem  it  quite  a  simple  matter 
that  a  young  girl  should  prostitute  herself;  it  seems  to  me  that 
I  would  betray  my  friends  without  the  least  remorse,  and  that  I 
should  not  have  the  slightest  scruple  about  kicking  people  who 
annoyed  me  down  a  precipice  if  I  were  walking  with  them  along 
the  edge.  I  would  look  with  coolness  on  the  most  atrocious 
sights,  and  there  is  something  in  the  sufferings  and  misfortunes 
of  humanity  which  is  not  displeasing  to  me.  I  experience  al 


178  MADEMOISELLE  t>E  MAUPFN. 

the  sight  of  some  calamity  falling  upon  the  world  the  same 
feeling  of  acrid  and  bitter  voluptuousness  that  is  experienced  by 
a  man  who  at  last  avenges  an  old  affront. 

11 0  world,  what  hast  thou  done  to  me  that  I  should  hate  thee 
thus?  Who  has  filled  me  so  with  gall  against  thee?  what 
was  I  expecting  from  thee  that  I  should  preserve  such  rancour 
against  thee  for  having  deceived  me  ?  to  what  lofty  hope  hast 
thou  been  false?  what  eaglet  wings  hast  thou  shorn?  What 
doors  wast  thou  to  open  which  have  remained  closed,  and  which 
of  us  has  failed  in  respect  of  the  other  ? 

"  Nothing  touches  me,  nothing  moves  me ;  I  no  longer  feel, 
on  hearing  the  recital  of  heroic  deeds,  those  sublime  quiverings 
which  at  one  time  would  run  through  me  from  head  to  foot. 
All  this  even  appears  to  me  to  be  somewhat  silly.  No  accent 
is  deep  enough  to  bite  the  slackened  fibres  of  my  heart  and 
cause  them  to  vibrate :  I  see  the  tears  of  my  fellow-creatures 
flow  with  as  indifferent  an  eye  as  the  rain,  unless  indeed  they 
be  of  a  fine  water,  and  the  light  be  reflected  in  them  in  pictur- 
esque fashion  and  they  flow  over  a  beautiful  cheek.  For 
animals,  and  for  them  almost  alone,  I  have  a  feeble  residue  of 
pity.  I  would  suffer  a  peasant  or  a  servant  to  be  beaten  without 
mercy,  and  could  not  patiently  endure  to  have  the  same  treat- 
ment given  in  my  presence  to  a  horse  or  a  dog ;  yet  I  am  not 
wicked — I  have  never  done,  and  probably  shall  never  do,  any 
harm  to  anybody  in  the  world ;  but  this  is  rather  a  result  of  my 
indifference  and  the  sovereign  contempt  which  I  have  for  all 
persons  who  do  not  please  me,  and  which  does  not  allow  me  to 
be  occupied  with  them  even  to  do  them  an  injury. 

"  I  abhor  the  whole  world  in  a  body,  and  in  the  whole 
collection  I  scarcely  deem  one  or  two  worthy  of  a  special  hatred. 
To  hate  anyone  is  to  disquiet  yourself  as  much  about  him  as 
though  you  loved  him  ;  to  distinguish  him,  isolate  him  from  the 
crowd  ;  to  be  in  a  violent  condition  on  account  of  him ;  to  think 
of  him  by  day  and  dream  of  him  by  night ;  to  bite  your  pillow 
and  grind  your  teeth  at  the  thought  that  he  exists ;  what  more 
could  you  do  for  one  you  loved  ?  Would  you  bestow  the  same 
trouble  and  activity  on  pleasing  a  mistress  as  on  ruining  an 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  179 

enemy  ?  I  doubt  it — in  order  to  really  hate  anybody,  we 
must  love  another.  Every  great  hatred  serves  as  a  counter- 
weight to  a  great  love :  and  whom  could  I  hate,  I  who  love 
nobody  ? 

"  My  hate,  like  my  love,  is  a  confused  and  general  feeling, 
which  seeks  to  fasten  upon  something  and  cannot ;  I  have  a 
treasure  of  hate  and  love  within  me  which  I  cannot  turn  to 
account,  and  which  weighs  horribly  upon  me.  If  I  can  find  no 
means  of  pouring  forth  one  or  other  of  them,  or  both,  I  shall 
burst,  and  break  asunder  like  bags  crammed  too  full  of  money 
which  rupture  themselves  and  rip  their  seams.  Oh  !  if  I  could 
abhor  somebody,  if  one  of  the  stupid  people  with  whom  I  live 
could  insult  me  in  such  a  way  as  to  make  my  old  viper  blood 
boil  in  my  icy  veins  and  rouse  me  from  the  dull  somnolence 
wherein  I  stagnate  ;  if  thou  couldst  bite  me  on  the  cheek  with 
thy  rat-like  teeth  and  communicate  thy  venom  and  thy  rage  to 
me,  old  sorceress  with  palsied  head  ;  if  someone's  death  could 
be  my  life ;  if  the  last  heart's  throb  of  an  enemy  writhing 
beneath  my  foot  could  impart  delicious  quiverings  to  my 
hair,  and  the  odour  of  his  blood  become  sweeter  to  my  parched 
nostrils  than  the  aroma  of  flowers,  oh  !  how  readily  would  I 
abandon  love,  and  how  happy  would  I  esteem  myself! 

"  Mortal  embraces,  tiger-like  bitings,  boa  entwinings,  ele- 
phant feet  pressed  on  a  cracking  and  flattening  breast,  steeled 
tail  of  the  scorpion,  milky  juice  of  the  euphorbia,  curling  kris  of 
Java,  blades  that  glitter  in  the  night  and  are  extinguished  in 
blood,  you  it  is  that,  with  me,  shall  take  the  place  of  leafless 
roses,  humid  kisses  and  the  entwinings  of  love  ! 

"  I  have  said  that  I  love  nothing ;  alas !  I  am  now  afraid 
of  loving  something.  It  were  ten  thousand  times  better 
to  hate  than  so  to  love  !  I  have  found  the  type  of  beauty  that 
I  dreamed  of  so  long.  I  have  discovered  the  body  of  my 
phantom ;  I  have  seen  it,  it  has  spoken  to  me,  I  have  touched 
its  hand,  it  exists  ;  it  is  not  a  chimera.  1  well  knew  that  I 
could  not  be  mistaken,  and  that  my  presentiments  never  lied. 
Yes,  Silvio,  I  am  by  the  side  of  my  life's  dream ;  its  room  is 
there  and  mine  is  here  •  I  can  see  the  trembling  of  the  curtain 


l8o  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

at  its  window  and  the  light  of  its  lamp.     Its  shadow  has  just 
passed  across  the  curtain.     In  an  hour  we  shall  sup  together. 

"  The  beautiful  Turkish  eyelashes,  the  deep  and  limpid  gaze, 
the  warm  colour  of  pale  amber,  the  long  and  lustrous  black 
hair,  the  nose  finely  cut  and  proud,  the  joints  and  slender 
delicate  extremities  after  the  manner  of  Parmeginiano,  the 
dainty  curves,  the  purity  of  oval,  which  give  so  much  elegance 
and  aristocracy  to  a  face,  all  that  I  wished  for,  and  that  I 
should  have  been  happy  to  find  disseminated  in  five  or  six 
persons,  I  have  found  united  in  one  ! 

"What  I  most  adore  of  all  things  in  the  world  is  a  pretty 
hand.  If  you  saw  this  one !  what  perfection !  what  vivacious 
whiteness !  what  softness  of  skin  !  what  penetrating  moisture ! 
how  admirably  tapering  the  extremity  of  the  fingers  !  how  clear 
the  oval  markings  on  the  nails  !  what  polish  and  what  splendour! 
you  would  compare  them  to  the  inner  leaves  of  a  rose, — the 
hands  of  Anne  of  Austria,  so  vaunted  and  celebrated,  are  in 
comparison  but  those  of  a  tiirkey-herd  or  of  a  scullery- 
maid.  And  then  what  grace  is  there  and  what  art  in  the 
slightest  movements  of  this  hand !  how  gracefully  does  this 
little  finger  curve  and  keep  itself  a  little  apart  from  its  tall 
brothers !  The  thought  of  this  hand  maddens  me,  and  causes 
my  lips  to  quiver  and  burn.  I  close  my  eyes  that  I  may  see  it 
no  longer ;  but  with  the  tips  of  its  delicate  fingers  it  takes  my 
eyelashes  and  opens  the  lids,  and  causes  a  thousand  visions  of 
ivory  and  snow  to  pass  before  me. 

"  Ah  !  it  is  Satan's  claw,  no  doubt,  that  is  gloved  beneath  this 
satin  skin  ; — it  is  some  jesting  demon  who  is  befooling  me ; — 
there  is  some  sorcery  here.  It  is  too  monstrously  impossible. 

-  This  hand — I  shall  set  out  for  Italy  to  see  the  pictures  of 
the  great  masters,  to  study,  compare,  draw,  and  in  short  be- 
come a  painter  that  I  may  represent  it  as  it  is,  as  I  see  it,  as  3 
feel  it ;  it  will  perhaps  be  a  means  of  ridding  myself  of  this 
species  of  possession. 

"  I  wished  for  beauty ;  I  knew  not  what  I  asked.  It  is  to  be 
desirous  of  looking  without  eyelids  at  the  sun,  to  be  desirous  of 
touching  fire.  I  suffer  horribly.  To  be  unable  to  assimilate 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  181 

this  perfection,  to  be  unable  to  pass  into  it  and  have  it  pass 
into  me,  to  have  no  means  of  representing  it  and  making  it  felt ! 
When  I  see  something  beautiful  I  wish  to  touch  it  with  the 
whole  of  myself,  everywhere  and  at  the  same  time.  I  wish  to 
sing  it,  and  paint  it,  to  sculpture  it  and  write  it,  to  be  loved  by 
it  as  I  love  it;  I  wish  what  is,  and  ever  will  be,  impossible. 

"  Your  letter  has  done  me  harm,  much  harm — forgive  me  for 
saying  so.  All  the  calm,  pure  happiness  that  you  enjoy,  the 
walks  in  the  reddening  woods,  the  long  talks  so  tender  and  in- 
timate which  end  with  a  chaste  kiss  upon  the  brow ;  the  separ- 
ate and  serene  life ;  the  days  so  quickly  spent  that  the  night 
seems  to  advance,  make  me  find  the  internal  perturbations 
in  which  I  live  more  tempestuous  still.  So  you  are  to  be 
married  in  two  months;  all  the  obstacles  are  removed,  and 
you  are  now  sure  of  belonging  to  each  other  for  ever.  Your 
present  felicity  is  increased  by  all  your  future  felicity.  You  are 
happy  and  you  have  the  certainty  of  being  still  happier  soon. 
What  a  lot  is  yours  !  Your  loved  one  is  beautiful,  but  what  you 
love  in  her  is  not  lifeless  and  palpable  beauty,  material  beauty, 
but  the  beauty  that  is  invisible  and  eternal,  the  beauty  that  never 
grows  old,  the  beauty  of  the  soul.  She  is  full  of  grace  and  purity; 
she  loves  you  as  such  souls  know  how  to  love.  You  did  not 
seek  to  know  whether  the  gold  of  her  hair  approached  in  tone 
the  tresses  of  Rubens  and  Giorgione ;  but  it  pleased  you  because 
it  was  hers.  And  I  will  wager,  happy  lover  that  you  are,  that  you 
do  not  even  know  whether  your  mistress's  type  is  Greek  or 
Asiatic,  English  or  Italian.  O  Silvio  !  how  rare  are  the  hearts 
that  are  satisfied  with  love  pure  and  simple  and  desire  neither 
a  hermitage  in  the  forests,  nor  a  garden  on  an  island  in  Lake 
Maggiore. 

"  If  I  had  the  courage  to  tear  myself  from  here,  I  would  go 
and  spend  a  month  with  you  ;  it  might  be  that  I  should  be 
purified  in  the  air  that  you  breathe,  and  that  the  shadows  of 
your  avenues  would  shed  a  little  freshness  on  my  burning 
brow ;  but  no,  it  is  a  paradise  wherein  I  must  not  set  my  foot. 
Scarcely  should  I  be  permitted  to  gaze  from  a  distance  over  the 
wall  at  the  two  beautiful  angels  walking  in  it,  hand  in  hand  and 


i82  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

eye  to  eye.  The  demon  cannot  enter  into  Eden  save  in  the 
form  of  a  serpent,  and,  dear  Adam,  for  all  the  happiness  in 
heaven,  I  would  not  be  the  serpent  to  your  Eve. 

"  What  fearful  work  has  been  wrought  in  my  soul  of  late  ? 
who  has  turned  my  blood  and  changed  it  into  venom  ? 
Monstrous  thought,  spreading  thy  pale  green  branches  and  thy 
hemlock  umbels  in  the  icy  shadow  of  my  heart,  what  poisoned 
wind  has  lodged  there  the  germ  whence  thou  art  sprung  ?  It 
was  this  then  that  was  reserved  for  me,  it  was  to  this  that  all 
the  paths,  so  desperately  essayed,  were  to  lead  me  !  O  fate, 
how  thou  dost  mock  us  !  All  the  eagle-flights  towards  the  sun, 
the  pure  flames  aspiring  to  heaven,  the  divine  melancholy,  the 
love  deep  and  restrained,  the  religion  of  beauty,  the  fancy  so 
curious  and  graceful,  the  exhaustless  and  ever-mounting  flood 
from  the  internal  spring,  the  ecstacy  ever  open-winged,  the 
dreaming  that  bore  more  blossoms  than  the  hawthorn  in  May, 
all  the  poetry  of  my  youth,  all  these  gifts  so  beautiful  and  rare, 
were  only  to  succeed  in  placing  me  beneath  the  lowest  of 
mankind ! 

"  I  wished  to  love.  I  went  like  a  madman  calling  and  in- 
voking love;  I  writhed  with  rage  beneath  the  feeling  of  my 
impotence ;  I  fired  my  blood,  and  dragged  my  body  to  the 
sloughs  of  pleasure ;  I  clasped  to  suffocation  against  my  arid 
heart  a  fair  young  woman  who  loved  me  ;  I  pursued  the  passion 
that  fled  from  rne.  I  degraded  myself,  and  acted  like  a  virgin' 
going  to  an  evil  place  in  hope  of  finding  a  lover  among  those 
brought  thither  by  impure  motives,  instead  of  waiting  patiently 
in  discreet  and  silent  shadow  until  the  angel  reserved  for  me  by 
God  should  appear  to  me  with  radiant  penumbra,  a  flower 
from  heaven  ready  to  my  hand.  All  the  years  that  I  have 
wasted  in  childish  disquietude,  hastening  hither  and  thither, 
and  trying  to  force  nature  and  time,  I  ought  to  have  spent  in 
solitude  and  meditation,  in  striving  to  render  myself  worthy  of 
being  loved ;  that  would  have  been  wisely  done ;  but  I  had 
scales  before  my  eyes  and  I  walked  straight  to  the  precipice. 
Already  I  have  one  foot  suspended  over  the  void,  and  I  believe 
that  I  shall  soon  raise  the  other.  My  resistance  is  in  vain,  I 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  183 

feel  it,  I  must  roll  to  the  bottom  of  the  new  abyss  which  has 
just  opened  up  within  me. 

"  Yes,  it  was  indeed  thus  that  I  had  imagined  love.  I  now 
feel  that  of  which  I  had  dreamed.  Yes,  here  is  the  charming 
and  terrible  sleeplessness  in  which  the  roses  are  thistles  and 
the  thistles  roses ;  here  is  the  sweet  grief  and  the  wretched 
happiness,  the  unspeakable  trouble  which  surrounds  you  with 
a  golden  cloud  and,  like  drunkenness,  causes  the  shape  of 
objects  to  waver  before  you,  the  buzzings  in  the  ear  wherein 
there  ever  rings  the  last  syllable  of  the  well-beloved's  name, 
the  paleness,  the  flushings,  the  sudden  quiverings,  the  burning 
and  icy  sweat :  it  is  indeed  thus ;  the  poets  do  not  lie. 

"  When  I  am  about  to  enter  the  drawing-room  in  which  we 
usually  meet,  my  heart  beats  with  such  violence  that  it  might 
be  seen  through  my  dress,  and  I  am  obliged  to  restrain  it 
with  both  my  hands  lest  it  should  escape.  If  I  perceive  this 
form  at  the  end  of  an  avenue  or  in  the  park,  distance  is 
straightway  effaced,  and  the  road  passes  away  I  know  not  where : 
the  devil  must  carry  it  off  or  I  must  have  wings.  Nothing 
can  divert  my  attention  from  it :  I  read,  and  the  same  image 
comes  between  the  book  and  my  eyes ;  I  ride,  I  gallop,  and  I 
still  believe  that  I  can  feel  in  the  whirlwind  its  long  hair 
mingling  with  mine,  and  hear  its  hurried  respiration  and  its 
warm  breath  passing  lightly  over  my  cheek.  This  image 
possesses  and  pursues  me  everywhere,  and  I  never  see  it  more 
than  when  I  see  it  not 

"  You  pitied  me  for  not  loving,  pity  me  now  for  loving,  and 
above  all  for  loving  whom  I  love.  What  a  misfortune,  what  a 
hatchet-stroke  upon  my  life  that  was  already  so  mutilated ! 
what  senseless,  guilty,  odious  passion  has  laid  hold  upon  me  ! 
It  is  a  shame  whose  blush  will  never  fade  from  my  brow.  It  is 
the  most  lamentable  of  all  my  aberrations,  I  cannot  understand 
it,  I  cannot  comprehend  it  at  all,  everything  is  confused  and 
upset  within  me  ;  I  can  no  longer  tell  who  I  am  or  what  others 
are,  I  doubt  whether  I  am  a  man  or  a  woman,  I  have  a  horror 
of  myself,  I  experience  strange  and  inexplicable  emotions,  and 
there  are  moments  when  it  seems  to  me  as  if  my  reason  were 


i84 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUP1N. 


departing,  and  when  the  feeling  of  my  existence  forsakes  me 
altogether.  For  a  long  time  I  could  not  believe  what  was ;  I 
listened  to  myself  and  watched  myself  attentively.  I  strove  to 
unravel  the  confused  skein  that  was  entangled  in  my  soul.  At 
last,  through  all  the  veils  which  enveloped  it,  I  discovered  the 
frightful  truth.  Silvio,  I  love — Oh  i  no,  I  can  never  tell  you — 
I  love  a  man  ; " 


IX. 


)T  is  so.  1  love  a  man,  Silvio.  I  long  sought  lo 
delude  myself;  I  gave  a  different  name  to  the 
feeling  that  I  experienced ;  I  clothed  it  in  the 
garment  of  pure  and  disinterested  friendship ;  1 
believed  that  it  was  merely  the  admiration  which  I  entertain  for 
all  beautiful  persons  and  things  ;  for  several  days  I  walked  in  the 
treacherous,  pleasant  paths  that  wander  about  every  waking 
passion ;  but  I  now  recognise  the  profound  and  terrible  road 
to  which  I  am  pledged.  There  is  no  means  of  concealment : 
I  have  examined  myself  thoroughly,  and  coldly  weighed  all  the 
circumstances;  I  have  accounted  to  myself  for  the  smallest 
detail ;  I  have  explored  my  soul  in  every  direction  with  the 
certainty  which  results  from  the  habit  of  self-investigation ;  I 
blush  to  think  and  write  about  it ;  but  the  fact,  alas !  is  only  too 
certain,  I  love  this  young  man  not  from  friendship  but  from 
love ; — yes,  from  love. 

"  You  whom  I  have  loved  so  much,  Silvio,  my  good,  my  only 
comrade,  you  have  never  inspired  me  with  a  similar  feeling, 
and  yet,  if  ever  there  was  under  heaven  a  close  and  lively 
friendship,  if  ever  two  souls,  though  different,  understood  each 
other  perfectly,  it  was  our  friendship  and  our  two  souls.  What 
winged  hours  have  we  spent  together !  what  talks  without  end 
and  always  too  soon  terminated  !  how  many  things  have  we  said 
to  each  other  which  people  have  never  said  to  themselves ! 
We  had  towards  each  other  in  our  hearts  the  window  which 
Momus  would  have  liked  to  open  in  man's  bosom.  How  proud 


186  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

I  was  of  being  your  friend,  I  who  was  younger  than  you,  I  so 
insane  and  you  so  full  of  reason ! 

"  What  I  feel  towards  this  young  man  is  truly  incredible ;  no 
woman  has  ever  troubled  me  so  singularly.  The  sound  of  his 
clear,  silvery  voice  affects  my  nerves  and  agitates  me  in  a 
strange  manner ;  my  soul  hangs  on  his  lips,  like  a  bee  on  a 
flower,  to  drink  in  the  honey  of  his  words.  T  cannot  brush  him 
as  I  pass  without  quivering  from  head  to  foot,  and  when,  in  the 
evening,  as  we  are  separating,  he  gives  me  his  soft,  satin-like, 
adorable  hand,  all  my  life  rushes  to  the  spot  that  he  has 
touched,  and  an  hour  afterwards  T  still  feel  the  pressure  of  his 
fingers. 

"  This  morning  I  gazed  at  him  for  a  long  time  without  his 
seeing  me.  I  was  concealed  behind  my  curtain.  He  was  at 
his  window  which  is  exactly  opposite  to  mine.  This  part  of  the 
mansion  was  built  at  the  end  of  Henri  IV's  reign;  it  is  half 
brick,  half  ashlar,  according  to  the  custom  of  the  time;  the 
window  is  long  and  narrow,  with  a  lintel  and  balcony  of  stone. 
Theodore — for  you  have  no  doubt  already  guessed  that  it  is  he 
who  is  in  question — was  resting  his  elbow  on  the  parapet  with 
a  melancholy  air,  and  appeared  to  be  in  a  profound  reverie. 
A  drapery  of  red,  large-flowered  damask,  which  was  half  caught 
up,  fell  in  broad  folds  behind  him  and  served  him  as  a  back- 
ground. How  handsome  he  was,  and  how  marvellously  his  dark 
and  pale  head  was  set  off  by  the  purple  tint !  Two  great 
clusters  of  black,  lustrous  hair,  like  the  grape-bunches  of  the 
ancient  Erigone,  hung  gracefully  down  his  cheeks,  and  framed 
in  a  most  charming  manner  the  correct  delicate  oval  of  his 
beautiful  face.  His  round;  pltimp  neck  was  entirely  bare,  and 
he  had  on  a  dressing-gown  with  broad  sleeves  which  was  toler- 
ably like  a  woman's  dress.  In  his  hand  he  held  a  yellow  tulip, 
picking  it  pitilessly  to  pieces  in  his  reverie  and  throwing  the 
fragments  to  the  wind. 

"  One  of  the  luminous  angles  traced  by  the  sun  on  the  wall 
chanced  to  be  projected  against  the  window,  and  the  picture 
was  gilded  with  a  warm,  transparent  tone  which  would  have 
made  Giorgione's  most  brilliant  canvas  envious. 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  187 

"  With  his  long  hair  stirred  softly  by  the  breeze,  his  marble 
neck  thus  uncovered,  his  ample  robe  clasped  around  his  waist, 
and  his  beautiful  hands  issuing  from  their  ruffles  like  the  pistils 
of  a  flower  from  the  midst  of  their  petals,  he  looked  not  the 
handsomest  of  men  but  the  most  beautiful  of  women,  and  I 
said  in  my  heart — '  It  is  a  woman,  oh  !  it  is  a  woman  !'  Then  I 
suddenly  remembered  the  nonsense  which,  as  you  know,  I  wrote 
to  you  a  long  time  ago,  respecting  my  ideal  and  the  manner  in 
which  I  should  assuredly  meet  with  it :  the  beautiful  lady  in 
the  Louis  XIII  park,  the  red  and  white  mansion,  the  large 
terrace,  the  avenues  of  old  chestnut  trees,  and  the  interview  at 
the  window ;  I  once  gave  you  all  these  details.  It  was  just  so, 
— what  I  saw  was  the  exact  realisation  of  my  dream.  It  was 
just  the  style  of  architecture,  the  effect  of  light,  the  description 
of  beauty,  the  colour  and  the  character  that  I  had  desired ; 
— nothing  was  wanting,  only  the  lady  was  a  man  ; — but  I  con- 
fess to  you  that  for  the  moment  I  had  completely  forgotten  this. 

"  Theodore  must  be  a  woman  disguised ;  the  thing  is  im- 
possible otherwise.  Such  beauty,  even  for  a  woman,  is  not  the 
beauty  of  a  man,  were  he  Antinoiis,  the  friend  of  Adrian ;  were 
he  Alexis,  the  friend  of  Virgil.  It  is  a  woman,  by  heaven,  and  I 
was  very  foolish  to  torment  myself  in  such  a  manner.  In  this 
way  everything  is  explained  in  the  most  natural  fashion  in  the 
world,  and  I  am  not  such  a  monster  as  I  believed. 

"  Would  God  put  those  long,  dark  silken  fringes  on  the 
coarse  eyelids  of  a  man  ?  Would  he  dye  our  ugly  blobber- 
lipped  and  hair-bristling  mouths  with  carmine  so  delicate  and 
bright  ?  Our  bones,  hewn  into  shape  as  with  blows  of  a  hedge- 
bill  and  coarsely  fitted  together,  are  not  worthy  of  being  swaddled 
in  such  white  and  tender  flesh  ;  our  indented  skulls  are  not  made 
to  be  bathed  in  floods  of  such  wonderful  hair. 

"  O  beauty !  we  were  created  only  to  love  thee  and  worship 
thee  on  our  knees,  if  we  have  found  thee,  and  to  seek  thee 
eternally  through  the  world,  if  this  happiness  has  not  been  given 
to  us ;  but  to  possess  thee,  to  be  thyself,  is  possible  only  to 
angels  and  to  women.  Lovers,  poets,  painters  and  sculptors,  we 
all  seek  to  raise  an  altar  to  thee,  the  lover  in  his  mistress,  the 


t8S  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

poet  in  his  song,  the  painter  in  his  canvas,  the  sculptor  in  his 
marble ;  but  it  is  everlasting  despair  to  be  unable  to  give 
palpability  to  the  beauty  that  you  feel,  and  to  be  enshrouded 
in  a  body  which  in  no  way  realises  the  body  which  you  know 
to  be  yours. 

"  I  once  saw  a  young  man  who  had  robbed  me  of  the  form 
that  I  ought  to  have  had.  The  rascal  was  just  such  as  I  should 
have  wished  to  be.  He  had  the  beauty  of  my  ugliness,  and 
beside  him  I  looked  like  a  rough  sketch  of  him.  He  was  of 
my  height,  but  more  slender  and  vigorous  ;  his  figure  resembled 
mine,  but  had  an  elegance  and  nobility  that  I  do  not  possess. 
His  eyes  were  riot  of  a  different  colour  than  my  own,  but  they 
had  a  look  and  a  brilliancy  that  mine  will  never  have.  His 
nose  had  been  cast  in  the  same  mould  as  mine,  but  it  seemed 
to  have  been  retouched  by  the  chisel  of  a  skilful  statuary; 
the  nostrils  were  more  open  and  more  impassioned,  the  flat 
parts  more  cleanly  cut,  and  there  was  something  heroic  in  it 
which  is  altogether  wanting  to  that  respectable  portion  of  my 
individuality :  you  would  have  said  that  nature  had  first  tried 
in  my  person  to  make  this  perfected  self  of  mine. 

"I  looked  like  the  erased  and  shapeless  draught  of  the 
thought  whereof  he  was  the  copy  in  fair,  moulded  writing. 
When  I  saw  him  walk,  stop,  salute  the  ladies,  sit  and  lie  down 
with  the  perfect  grace  which  results  from  beauty  of  proportion, 
I  was  seized  with  sadness  and  frightful  jealousy,  such  as  must 
be  felt  by  the  clay  model  drying  and  splitting  obscurely  in  a 
corner  of  the  studio,  while  the  haughty  marble  statue,  which 
would  not  have  existed  without  it,  stands  proudly  on  its 
sculptured  socle,  and  attracts  the  attention  and  praises  of  the 
visitors.  For  the  rogue  is,  after  all,  only  my  own  self  which  has 
succeeded  a  little  better,  and  been  cast  with  less  rebellious 
bronze,  that  has  made  its  way  more  exactly  into  the  hollows  of 
the  mould.  I  think  that  he  has  great  hardihood  to  strut  in  this 
way  with  my  form  and  to  display  as  much  insolence  as  though 
he  were  an  original  type :  he  is,  when  all  is  said,  only  a  plagiar- 
ism from  me,  for  I  was  born  before  him,  and  without  me  nature 
would  fiot  have  conceived  the  idea  of  making  him  as  he  is. 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  185 

"When  women  praised  his  good  manners  and  persona! 
charms,  I  had  every  inclination  in  the  world  to  rise  and  say  to 
them — '  Fools  that  you  are,  just  praise  me  directly,  for  this 
gentleman  is  myself  and  it  is  uselessly  circuitous  to  transmit  to 
him  what  is  destined  to  come  back  to  me.'  At  other  times  I 
itched  horribly  to  strangle  him  and  to  turn  his  soul  out  of  the 
body  which  belonged  to  me,  and  I  would  prowl  about  him  with 
compressed  lips  and  clenched  fists  like  a  lord  prowling  around 
his  palace  in  which  a  family  of  ragamuffins  has  established  it- 
self in  his  absence,  and  not  knowing  how  to  cast  them  out.  For 
the  rest,  this  young  man  is  stupid,  and  succeeds  all  the  better  for 
it.  And  sometimes  I  envy  him  his  stupidity  more  than  his  beauty. 

"The  Gospel  saying  about  the  poor  in  spirit  is  not  com- 
plete:  'They  shall  have  the  kingdom  of  Heaven;'  I  know 
nothing  about  that,  and  it  is  a  matter  of  indifference  to  me ; 
but  they  most  certainly  have  the  kingdom  of  the  earth, — they 
have  the  money  and  the  beautiful  women,  in  other  words  the 
only  two  desirable  things  in  the  world.  Do  you  know  a  sensible 
man  who  is  rich,  or  a  fellow  with  heart  and  some  merit  who  has 
a  passable  mistress  ?  Although  The'odore  is  very  handsome,  I 
nevertheless  have  not  wished  for  his  beauty,  and  I  would  rather 
he  had  it  than  I. 

"  Those  strange  loves  of  which  the  elegies  of  the  ancient 
poets  are  full,  which  surprised  us  so  much  and  which  we  could 
not  understand,  are  probable,  therefore,  and  possible.  In  the 
translations  that  we  used  to  make  of  them  we  substituted  the 
names  of  women  for  those  which  were  actually  there.  Juven- 
tius  was  made  to  terminate  as  Juventia,  Alexis  was  changed  into 
lanthe.  The  beautiful  boys  became  beautiful  girls,  we  thus 
reconstructed  the  monstrous  seraglio  of  Catullus,  Tibullus, 
Martial,  and  the  gentle  Virgil.  It  was  a  very  gallant  occupation 
which  only  proved  how  little  we  had  comprehended  the  ancient 
genius. 

"  I  am  a  man  of  the  Homeric  times ;  the  world  in  which  1 
live  is  not  mine,  and  I  have  no  comprehension  of  the  society 
which  surrounds  me.  Christ  has  not  come  for  me ;  I  am  as 
much  a  pagan  as  were  Alcibiades  and  Phidias.  I  have  never 


190  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

gone  to  pluck  passion  flowers  upon  Golgotha,  and  the  deep 
river  which  flows  from  the  side  of  the  Crucified  One  and  forms 
a  red  girdle  round  the  world  has  not  bathed  me  in  its  flood. 
My  rebellious  body  will  not  recognise  the  supremacy  of  the  soul, 
and  my  flesh  does  not  admit  that  it  should  be  mortified.  I 
deem  the  earth  as  fair  as  heaven,  and  I  think  that  correctness 
of  form  is  virtue.  Spirituality  does  not  suit  me,  I  prefer  a 
statue  to  a  phantom,  and  noon  to  twilight.  Three  things 
please  me :  gold,  marble  and  purple,  splendour,  solidity  and 
colour.  My  dreams  are  composed  of  them,  and  all  my  chi- 
merical palaces  are  constructed  of  these  materials. 

"Sometimes  I  have  other  dreams, — of  long  cavalcades  of 
perfectly  white  horses,  without  harness  or  bridle,  ridden  by 
beautiful  naked  youths  who  defile  across  a  band  of  dark  blue 
colour  as  on  the  friezes  of  the  Parthenon,  or  of  theories  of  young 
girls  crowned  with  bandelets,  with  straight-folded  tunics  and 
ivory  sistra,  who  seem  to  wind  around  an  immense  vase.  Never 
mist  or  vapour,  never  anything  uncertain  or  wavering.  My  sky 
has  no  clouds,  or,  if  there  be  any,  they  are  solid  chisel-carved 
clouds,  formed  with  the  marble  fragments  fallen  from  the  statue 
of  Jupiter.  Mountains  with  sharp-cut  ridges  indent  it  abruptly 
on  the  borders,  and  the  sun,  leaning  on  one  of  the  loftiest  sum- 
mits, opens  wide  his  lion-yellow  eye  with  its  golden  lashes. 
The  grasshopper  cries  and  sings,  the  corn-ear  cracks;  the 
shadow,  vanquished  and  exhausted  by  the  heat,  rolls  itself  up 
and  collects  itself  at  the  foot  of  the  trees  :  everything  is  radiant, 
shining,  resplendent.  The  smallest  detail  becomes  firm  and  is 
boldly  accentuated ;  every  object  assumes  a  robust  form  and 
colour.  There  is  no  room  for  the  softness  and  dreaming  of 
Christian  art. 

"  Such  a  world  is  mine.  The  streams  in  my  landscapes  fall 
in  a  sculptured  tide  from  a  sculptured  urn ;  through  the  tall 
green  reeds,  sonorous  as  those  of  the  Eurotas,  may  be  seen 
glistening  the  round,  silvery  hip  of  some  nymph  with  glaucous 
hair.  Here  is  Diana  passing  through  this  dark  oak  forest  with 
her  quiver  at  her  back,  her  flying  scarf,  and  her  buskins  with 
intertwining  bands.  She  is  followed  by  her  pack  and  her 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  191 

nymphs  with  harmonious  names.  My  pictures  are  painted  with 
four  tints,  like  the  pictures  of  the  primitive  painters,  and  often 
they  are  only  coloured  basso-relievos ;  for  I  love  to  touch  what 
I  have  seen  with  my  finger  and  to  pursue  the  roundness  of 
the  outlines  into  its  most  fugitive  windings  ;  I  view  each  thing 
from  every  side  and  go  around  it  with  a  light  in  my  hand. 

"  I  have  looked  upon  love  in  the  light  of  antiquity  and  as  a 
more  or  less  perfect  piece  of  sculpture.  How  is  this  arm? 
Pretty  well.  The  hands  are  not  wanting  in  delicacy.  What  do 
you  think  of  this  foot  ?  I  think  that  the  ankle  is  without 
nobility,  and  that  the  heel  is  commonplace.  But  the  breast  is 
well  placed  and  of  good  shape,  the  serpentine  line  is  sufficiently 
undulating,  the  shoulders  are  fat  and  of  a  handsome  character. 
This  woman  would  be  a  passable  model,  and  it  would  be 
possible  to  cast  several  portions  of  her.  Let  us  love  her. 

"  I  have  always  been  thus.  I  look  upon  women  with  the 
eyes  of  a  sculptor  and  not  of  a  lover.  I  have  all  my  life  been 
troubled  about  the  shape  of  the  flagon,  never  about  the  quality 
of  its  contents.  I  might  have  had  Pandora's  box  in  my  hand, 
and  I  believe  that  I  should  not  have  opened  it.  Just  now  I 
said  that  Christ  had  not  come  for  me  ;  Mary,  star  of  the  modern 
Heaven,  sweet  mother  of  the  glorious  babe,  has  not  come  either. 

"For  a  long  time  and  very  often  I  have  stopped  beneath  the 
stone  foliage  in  cathedrals,  in  the  trembling  brightness  from  the 
windows,  at  an  hour  when  the  organ  was  moaning  of  itself, 
when  an  invisible  finger  touched  the  keys  and  the  wind 
breathed  in  the  pipes,  and  I  have  plunged  my  eyes  deep 
into  the  pale  azure  of  the  long  eyes  of  the  Madonna.  I  have 
followed  piously  the  wasted  oval  of  her  face,  and  the  scarcely 
indicated  arch  of  her  eyebrows ;  I  have  admired  her  smooth 
and  luminous  brow,  her  chastely  transparent  temples,  her 
cheek-bones  shaded  with  a  sober  virginal  colour,  tenderer  than 
the  blossom  of  the  peach ;  I  have  counted  one  by  one  the 
beautiful  golden  lashes  casting  their  palpitating  shadow;  through 
the  half-tint  which  bathes  her  I  have  distinguished  the 
fleeting  lines  of  her  frail  and  modestly  bended  neck ;  I  have 
even,  with  rash  hand,  raised  the  folds  of  her  tunic  and  con- 


192  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

templated  unveiled  the  virgin,  milk-distended  bosom  which  was 
never  pressed  but  by  lips  divine ;  I  have  pursued  its  delicate 
blue  veins  into  their  most  imperceptible  ramifications,  I  have 
laid  my  finger  upon  it  that  I  might  cause  the  celestial  drink  to 
spring  forth  in  white  streams  ;  I  have  touched  with  my  mouth 
the  bud  of  the  mystic  rose. 

"  Well !  I  confess  that  all  this  immaterial  beauty,  so  winged 
and  vaporous  that  one  feels  that  it  is  about  to  lake  its  flight, 
has  affected  me  very  moderately.  I  prefer  the  Venus  Ana- 
dyomene  a  thousand  times.  The  antique  eyes  turned  up  at 
the  corners,  the  lips  so  pure  and  so  firmly  cut,  so  amorous  and 
so  inviting  for  a  kiss,  the  low  full  brow,  the  hair  undulating  like 
the  sea  and  knotted  carelessly  behind  the  head,  the  firm  and 
lustrous  shoulders,  the  back  with  its  thousand  charming  curves, 
the  small  and  gently  swelling  bosom,  all  the  well-rounded 
shapes,  the  breadth  of  hips,  the  delicate  strength,  the  expression 
of  superhuman  vigour  in  a  body  so  adorably  feminine,  ravish 
and  enchant  me  to  a  degree  of  which  you  can  form  no  idea,  you 
who  are  a  Christian  and  discreet. 

"  Mary,  in  spite  of  the  humble  air  which  she  affects,  is  far  too 
proud  for  me;  scarcely  does  even  the  tip  of  her  foot,  in  its 
encircling  white  bandelets,  touch  the  surface  of  the  globe  which 
is  already  growing  blue  and  on  which  the  old  serpent  is  writhing. 
Her  eyes  are  the  most  beautiful  in  the  world,  but  they  are 
always  turned  towards  heaven  or  cast  down ;  they  never  look 
you  in  the  face  and  have  never  reflected  a  human  form.  And 
then,  I  do  not  like  the  nimbuses  of  smiling  cherubs  which  circle 
her  head  in  a  golden  vapour.  I  am  jealous  of  the  tall  pubes- 
cent angels  with  floating  robes  and  hair  who  are  so  amorously 
eager  in  her  assumptions ;  the  hands  entwined  to  support  her. 
the  wings  in  motion  to  fan  her,  displease  and  annoy  me.  These 
heavenly  coxcombs,  so  coquettish  and  triumphant,  with  their 
tunics  of  light,  their  perukes  of  golden  thread,  and  their 
handsome  blue  and  green  feathers,  seem  too  gallant  to  me, 
and  if  I  were  God  I  should  take  care  not  to  give  such  pages  to 
my  mistress. 

"  Venus  emerges  from  the  sea  to  land  upon  the  world — 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  193 

as  is  fitting  in  a  divinity  that  loves  men — quite  naked  and  quite 
alone.  She  prefers  the  earth  to  Olympus,  and  has  more  men 
than  gods  for  her  lovers ;  she  does  not  enwrap  herself  in  the 
languorous  veils  of  mysticism ;  she  stands  erect,  her  dolphin 
behind  her,  her  foot  on  her  conch  of  mother  of  pearl ;  the  sun 
strikes  upon  her  polished  body,  and  with  her  white  hand  she 
holds  up  in  the  air  the  flood  of  her  beautiful  hair  on  which  old 
Father  Ocean  has  strewn  his  most  perfect  pearls.  You  may  look 
at  her :  she  conceals  nothing,  for  modesty  was  made  for  the 
ugly  alone,  and  is  a  modern  invention,  daughter  of  the  Christian 
contempt  for  form  and  mater. 

"  O  ancient  world !  so  all  that  thou  hast  revered  is  scorned  ; 
so  thy  idols  are  overthrown  in  the  dust ;  wasted  anchorites,  clad 
in  rags  that  are  full  of  holes,  and  blood-covered  martyrs,  with 
shoulders  torn  by  the  tigers  in  thy  circuses,  have  perched  them- 
selves upon  the  pedestals  of  thy  beautiful,  charming  gods : 
Christ  has  wrapped  the  world  in  his  shroud.  Beauty  must  blush 
at  itself  and  assume  a  winding  sheet.  Beautiful  youths  with  oil- 
rubbed  limbs  who  wrestle  in  lyceum  or  gymnasium,  beneath  the 
brilliant  sky,  in  the  full  light  of  the  Attic  sun,  before  the 
astonished  crowd ;  young  Spartan  girls  who  dance  the  bibasis, 
and  run  naked  to  ths  summit  of  Taygetus,  resume  your  tunics 
and  your  chlamydes  :  your  reign  is  past.  And  you,  shapers  of 
marble,  Prometheuses  of  bronze,  break  your  chisels :  there 
are  to  be  no  more  sculptors.  The  palpable  world  is  dead.  A 
dark  and  lugubrious  thought  alone  fills  the  immensity  of  the 
void.  Cleomene  goes  to  the  weavers  to  see  what  folds  are 
made  by  cloth  or  linen. 

"  Virginity,  bitter  plant,  born  on  a  soil  steeped  with  blood, 
whose  etiolated  and  sickly  flower  opens  painfully  in  the  dark 
shade  of  cloisters,  beneath  a  cold  lustralrain  ; — scentless  rose  all 
bristling  with  thorns,  thou  hast  taken  the  place,  with  us,  of  the 
beautiful,  joyous  roses  bathed  in  spikenard  and  Falernisn  of 
the  dancing  women  of  Sybaris  ! 

"The  ancient  world  did  not  know  thee,  fruitless  flower; 
never  didst  thou  enter  into  its  wreaths  of  intoxicating  fra- 
grance ;  in  that  vigorous  and  healthy  society  thou  wouldst  have 


194  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

been  trampled  scornftilly  underfoot.  Vuginity,  mysticism 
melancholy, —  three  unknown  words, —  three  new  maladies 
brought  in  by  Christ.  Pale  spectres  who  flood  our  world  with 
your  icy  tears  and  who,  with  your  elbow  on  a  cloud  and  your 
hand  in  your  bosom,  can  only  say — '  O  death  !  O  death  ! '  you 
could  not  have  set  foot  in  that  world  so  well  peopled  with 
indulgent  and  wanton  gods ! 

"  I  consider  woman,  after  the  manner  of  the  ancients,  as  a 
beautiful  slave  designed  for  our  pleasure.  Christianity  has  not 
rehabilitated  her  in  my  eyes.  To  me  she  is  still  something 
dissimilar  and  inferior  that  we  worship  and  play  with,  a  toy 
which  is  more  intelligent  than  if  it  were  of  ivory  or  gold,  and 
which  gets  up  of  itself  if  we  let  it  fall.  I  have  been  told,  in  con- 
sequence of  this,  that  I  think  badly  of  women ;  I  consider,  on 
the  contrary,  that  it  is  thinking  very  well  of  them. 

"  I  do  not  know,  in  truth,  why  women  are  so  anxious  to  be 
regarded  as  men.  I  can  understand  a  person  wishing  to  be  a 
boa,  a  lion  or  an  elephant;  but  that  anyone  should  wish  to  be  a 
man  is  something  quite  beyond  my  comprehension.  If  I  had 
been  at  the  Council  of  Trent  when  they  discussed  the  important 
question  of  whether  a  woman  is  a  man,  I  should  certainly  have 
given  my  opinion  in  the  negative. 

"  I  have  written  some  love- verses  during  my  lifetime,  or,  at 
least,  some  which  assumed  to  pass  for  such.  I  have  just  read  a 
portion  of  them  again.  They  are  altogether  wanting  in  the 
sentiment  of  modern  love.  If  they  were  written  in  Latin 
distichs  instead  of  in  French  rhymes,  they  might  be  taken  for 
the  work  of  a  bad  poet  of  the  time  of  Augustus.  And  I  am 
astonished  that  the  women,  for  whom  they  were  written,  were  not 
seriously  angry,  instead  of  being  quite  charmed  with  them.  It 
is  true  that  women  know  as  little  about  poetry  as  cabbages  and 
roses,  which  is  quite  natural  and  plain,  being  themselves  poetry, 
or,  at  least,  the  best  instruments  for  poetry :  the  flute  does 
not  hear  nor  understand  the  air  that  is  played  upon  it. 

"  In  these  verses  nothing  is  spoken  of  but  golden  or  ebony 
hair,  marvellous  delicacy  of  skin,  roundness  of  arm,  smallness 
of  foot,  and  shapely  daintiness  of  hand,  and  the  whole  terrni- 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  195 

nates  with  a  humble  supplication  to  the  divinity  to  grant  the 
enjoyment  of  all  these  beautiful  things  as  speedily  as  possible. 
In  the  triumphant  passages  there  is  nothing  but  garlands  hung 
upon  the  threshold,  torrents  of  flowers,  burning  perfumes, 
Catullian  addition  of  kisses,  sleepless  and  charming  nights, 
quarrels  with  Aurora,  and  injunctions  to  the  same  Aurora  to 
return  and  hide  herself  behind  the  saffron  curtains  of  old 
Tithonus ; — brightness  without  heat,  sonorousness  without  vibra- 
tion. They  are  accurate,  polished,  written  with  consistent 
elaboration ;  but  through  all  the  refinements  and  veils  of  expres- 
sion you  may  divine  the  short,  stern  voice  of  the  master  trying 
to  be  mild  while  speaking  to  the  slave.  There  is  no  soul,  as  in 
the  erotic  poetry  written  since  the  Christian  era,  asking  another 
soul  to  love  it  because  it  loves ;  there  is  no  azure-tinted,  smiling 
lake  inviting  a  brook  to  pour  itself  into  its  bosom  that  they 
may  reflect  the  stars  of  heaven  together ;  there  is  no  pair  of 
doves  spreading  their  wings  at  the  same  time  to  fly  to  the 
same  nest. 

"  Cynthia,  you  are  beautiful ;  make  haste.  Who  knows 
whether  you  will  be  alive  to-morrow  ?  Your  hair  is  blacker  than 
the  lustrous  skin  of  an  Ethiopian  virgin.  Make  haste  ;  a  few 
years  hence,  slender  silver  threads  will  creep  into  its  thick 
clusters ;  these  roses  smell  sweet  to-day,  but  to-morrow  they  will 
have  the  odour  of  death,  and  be  but  the  corpses  of  roses.  Let 
us  inhale  thy  roses  while  they  resemble  thy  cheeks ;  let  us  kiss 
thy  cheeks  while  they  resemble  thy  roses.  When  you  are  old, 
Cynthia,  no  one  will  have  anything  more  to  do  with  you, — not 
even  the  lictor's  servants  when  you  would  pay  them, — and  you 
will  run  after  me  whom  now  you  repulse.  Wait  until  Saturn 
with  his  nail  has  scratched  this  pure  and  shining  brow,  and  you 
will  see  how  your  threshold,  so  besieged,  so  entreated,  so  warm 
with  tears  and  so  decked  with  flowers,  will  be  shunned,  and 
cursed,  and  covered  with  weeds  and  briars.  Make  haste,  Cynthia; 
the  smallest  wrinkle  may  serve  as  a  grave  for  the  greatest  love. 

"Such  is  the  brutal  and  imperious  formula  in  which  all 
ancient  elegy  is  contained  :  it  always  comes  back  to  it ;  it  is 
its  greatest;  its  strongest  reason,  the  Achilles  of  its  arguments. 


196  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

After  this  it  has  scarcely  anything  to  say,  and,  when  it  nas  pro- 
mised a  robe  of  twice-dyed  byssus  and  a  union  of  equal-sized 
pearls,  it  has  reached  the  end  of  its  tether.  And  it  is  also 
nearly  the  whole  of  what  I  find  most  conclusive  in  a  similar 
emergency. 

"  Nevertheless  I  do  not  always  abide  by  so  scanty  a  pro- 
gramme, but  embroider  my  barren  canvas  with  a  few  differently 
coloured  silken  threads  picked  up  here  and  there.  But  these 
pieces  are  short  or  are  twenty  times  renewed,  and  do  not  keep 
their  places  well  on  the  groundwork  of  the  woof.  I  speak  of 
love  with  tolerable  elegance  because  I  have  read  many  fine 
things  about  it.  It  only  needs  the  talent  of  an  actor  to  do  so. 
With  many  women  this  appearance  is  enough;  my  habitual 
writing  and  imagination  prevent  me  from  being  short  of  such 
materials,  and  every  mind  that  is  at  all  practised  may  easily 
arrive  at  the  same  result  by  application ;  but  I  do  not  feel  a 
word  of  what  I  say,  and  I  repeat  in  a  whisper  like  the  ancient 
poet :  Cynthia,  make  haste. 

"  I  have  often  been  accused  of  deceit  and  dissimulation.  No- 
body in  the  world  would  be  so  pleased  as  myself  to  speak  freely 
and  pour  forth  his  heart !  but,  as  I  have  not  an  idea  or  a  feeling 
similar  to  those  of  the  people  who  surround  me, — as,  at  the  first 
true  word  that  I  let  fall,  there  would  be  a  hurrah  and  a  general 
outcry,  I  have  preferred  to  keep  silence,  or,  if  speaking,  to  dis- 
charge only  such  follies  as  are  admitted  and  have  rights  of 
citizenship.  I  should  be  welcome  if  I  said  to  the  ladies  what  I 
have  just  written  to  you !  I  do  not  think  that  they  would 
have  any  great  liking  for  my  manner  of  seeing  and  ways  of 
looking  upon  love. 

"  As  for  men,  I  am  equally  unable  to  tell  them  to  their  face 
that  they  are  wrong  not  to  go  on  all  fours  ;  and  that  is  in  truth 
the  most  favourable  thought  that  I  have  with  respect  to  them. 
I  do  not  wish  to  have  a  quarrel  at  every  word.  What  does  it 
matter,  after  all,  what  I  think  or  do  not  think ;  or  if  I  am  sad 
when  I  seem  gay,  and  joyous  when  I  have  an  air  of  melancholy  ? 
I  cannot  be  blamed  for  not  going  naked :  may  I  not  clothe 
my  countenance  as  I  do  my  body  ?  Why  should  a  mask  be 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  197 

more  reprehensible  than  a  pair  of  breeches,  or  a  lie  than  a 
corset  ? 

"Alas!  the  earth  turns  round  the  sun,  roasted  on  one  side  and 
frozen  on  the  other.  A  battle  takes  place  in  which  six  hundred 
thousand  men  cut  each  other  to  pieces  ;  the  weather  is  as  fine 
as  possible ;  the  flowers  display  unparalleled  coquetry,  and 
impudently  open  their  luxuriant  bosoms  beneath  the  very  feet 
of  the  horses.  To-day  a  fabulous  number  of  good  deeds  have 
been  performed  ;  it  is  pouring  fast,  there  is  snow  and  thunder, 
lightning  and  hail ;  you  would  think  'hat  the  world  was  coming 
to  an  end.  The  benefactors  of  numanity  are  muddy  to  the 
waist  and  as  dirty  as  dogs,  unless  they  have  carriages.  Creation 
mocks  pitilessly  at  the  creature,  and  shouts  keen  sarcasms  at  it 
every  minute.  Everything  is  indifferent  to  everything,  and 
each  lives  or  vegetates  in  virtue  of  its  own  law.  What  difference 
does  it  make  to  the  sun,  to  the  beetroots,  or  even  to  men, 
whether  I  do  this  or  that,  live  or  die,  suffer  or  rejoice,  dis- 
semble or  be  sincere  ? 

"  A  straw  falls  upon  an  ant  and  breaks  its  third  leg  at  the 
second  articulation ;  a  rock  falls  upon  a  village  and  crushes  it : 
I  do  not  believe  that  one  of  these  misfortunes  draws  more  tears 
than  the  other  from  the  golden  eyes  of  the  stars.  You  are  my 
best  friend,  if  the  expression  is  not  as  hollow  as  a  bell ;  but 
were  I  to  die,  it  is  very  evident  that,  mourn  as  you  might,  you 
would  not  abstain  from  dining  for  even  two  days,  and  would, 
in  spite  of  such  a  terrible  catastrophe,  continue  to  play  trick- 
track very  pleasantly.  Which  of  my  friends  or  mistresses  will 
know  my  name  and  Christian  names  twenty  years  hence,  or 
would  recognise  me  in  the  street  if  I  were  to  appear  with  a  coat 
out  at  elbows  ?  Forgetfulness  and  nothingness  are  the  whole 
of  man. 

"  I  feel  myself  as  perfectly  alone  as  is  possible,  and  all  the 
threads  passing  from  me  to  things  and  from  things  to  me  have 
been  broken  one  by  one.  There  are  few  examples  of  a  man 
who,  preserving  a  knowledge  of  the  movements  that  take  place 
within  him,  has  arrived  at  such  a  degree  of  brutishness.  I  am 
like  a  flagon  of  liqueur  which  has  been  left  uncorked  and 


198  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

whose  spirit  has  completely  evaporated.  The  beverage  has  the 
same  appearance  and  colour ;  but  taste  it,  and  you  will  find  in  it 
nothing  but  the  insipidity  of  water. 

"  When  I  think  of  it,  I  am  frightened  at  the  rapidity  of  this 
decomposition  ;  if  it  continues  I  shall  be  obliged  to  salt  myself, 
or  I  shall  inevitably  grow  rotten,  and  the  worms  will  come  after 
me,  seeing  that  I  have  no  longer  a  soul,  and  that  the  latter  alone 
constitutes  the  difference  between  a  body  and  a  corpse.  One 
year  ago,  not  more,  I  had  still  something  human  in  me  ;  I  was 
disquieted,  I  was  seeking.  I  had  a  thought  cherished  above  all 
others,  a  sort  of  aim,  an  ideal ;  I  wanted  to  be  loved  and  I  had 
the  dreams  that  come  at  that  age, — less  vaporous,  less  chaste, 
it  is  true,  than  those  of  ordinary  youths,  but  yet  contained  with- 
in just  limits. 

"Little  by  little  the  incorporeal  part  was  withdrawn  and 
dissipated,  and  there  was  left  at  bottom  of  me  only  a  thick 
bed  of  coarse  slime.  The  dream  became  a  nightmare,  and 
the  chimera  a  succubus  ;  the  world  of  the  soul  closed  its  ivory 
gates  against  me  :  I  now  understand  only  what  I  touch  with 
my  hands ;  my  dreams  are  of  stone  ;  everything  condenses  and 
hardens  about  me,  nothing  floats,  nothing  wavers,  there  is  neither 
air  nor  breath ;  matter  presses  upon  me,  encroaches  upon  me 
and  crushes  me  ;  I  am  like  a  pilgrim  who,  having  fallen  asleep 
with  his  feet  in  the  water  on  a  summer's  day,  has  awaked  in 
winter  with  his  feet  locked  fast  in  the  ice.  I  no  longer  wish 
for  anybody's  love  or  friendship;  glory  itself,  that  brilliant  aureola 
which  I  had  so  desired  for  my  brow,  no  longer  inspires  me  with 
the  slightest  longing.  Only  one  thing,  alas !  now  palpitates  within 
me,  and  that  is  the  horrible  desire  which  draws  me  towards 
Theodore.  You  see  to  what  all  my  moral  notions  are  reduced. 
What  is  physically  beautiful  is  good,  all  that  is  ugly  is  evil.  I 
might  see  a  beautiful  woman  who,  to  my  own  knowledge,  had 
the  most  villainous  soul  in  the  world,  and  was  an  adulteress 
and  a  poisoner,  and  I  confess  that  this  would  be  a  matter  of 
indifference  to  me  and  would  in  no  way  prevent  me  from 
taking  delight  in  her,  if  the  shape  of  her  nose  suited  me. 

"  This  is  the  way  in  which  I  picture  to  myself  supreme  happi- 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  199 

ness  :  there  is  a  large  square  building,  without  any  windows  look- 
ing outward ;  a  large  court  surrounded  by  a  white  marble  colon- 
nade, a  crystal  fountain  in  the  centre  with  a  jet  of  quicksilver 
after  the  Arabian  fashion,  and  boxes  of  orange  and  pomegranate 
trees  placed  alternately  ;  overhead,  a  very  blue  sky  and  a  very 
yellow  sun ;  large  greyhounds  with  pike-like  noses  should  be 
sleeping  here  and  there ;  from  time  to  time  barefooted  negroes 
with  rings  of  gold  on  their  legs,  and  beautiful  white,  slender 
serving-women,  clothed  in  rich  and  capricious  garments,  should 
pass  through  the  hollow  arcades,  a  basket  on  their  arm  or  an 
amphora  on  their  head.  For  myself,  I  should  be  there,  motion- 
less and  silent,  beneath  a  magnificent  canopy,  surrounded  with 
piles  of  cushions,  having  a  huge  tame  lion  supporting  my  elbow 
and  the  naked  breast  of  a  young  slave  like  a  stool  beneath  my 
foot,  and  smoking  opium  in  a  large  jade  pipe. 

"  I  cannot  imagine  paradise  differently ;  and,  if  God  really 
wishes  me  to  go  there  after  my  death,  he  will  build  me  a  little 
kiosk  on  this  plan  in  the  corner  of  some  star.  Paradise,  as  it 
is  commonly  described,  appears  to  me  much  too  musical,  and 
I  confess,  with  all  humility  that  I  am  perfectly  incapable  of 
enduring  a  sonata  which  would  last  for  merely  ten  thousand 
years. 

"  You  see  the  nature  of  my  Eldorado,  of  my  promised  land : 
it  is  a  dream  like  any  other ;  but  it  has  this  special  feature,  that 
I  never  introduce  any  known  countenance  into  it ;  that  none  of 
my  friends  has  crossed  the  threshold  of  this  imaginary  palace ; 
and  that  none  of  the  women  that  I  have  possessed  has  sat  down 
beside  me  on  the  velvet  of  the  cushions  :  I  am  there  alone  in  the 
midst  of  phantoms.  I  have  never  conceived  the  idea  of  loving 
all  the  women's  faces,  and  graceful  shadows  of  young  girls  with 
whom  I  people  it ;  I  have  never  supposed  one  of  them  in  love 
with  me.  In  this  fantastic  seraglio  I  have  created  no  favourite 
sultana.  There  are  negresses,  mulattoes,  Jewesses  with  blue 
skin  and  red  hair,  Greeks  and  Circassians,  Spaniards  and 
Englishwomen;  but  they  are  to  me  only  symbols  of  colour 
and  feature,  and  I  have  them  just  as  a  man  has  all  kinds  of 
wines  in  his  cellar,  and  every  species  of  humming-bird  in  his  col- 


200  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

lection.  They  are  objects  to  be  admired,  pictures  which  have 
no  need  of  a  frame,  statues  which  come  to  you  when  you  call 
them  and  wish  to  look  at  them  closely.  A  woman  possesses 
this  unquestionable  advantage  over  a  statue,  that  she  turns  of 
herself  in  the  direction  that  you  wish,  whereas  you  are  obliged 
to  walk  round  the  statue  and  place  yourself  at  the  point  of  sight; 
— which  is  fatiguing. 

"  You  must  see  that  with  such  ideas  I  cannot  remain  in  these 
times  nor  in  this  world  of  ours ;  for  it  is  impossible  to  exist  thus 
by  the  side  of  time  and  space.  I  must  find  something  else. 

"  Such  thoughts  lead  simply  and  logically  to  this  conclusion. 
As  only  satisfaction  of  the  eye,  polish  of  form,  and  purity  of 
feature  are  sought  for,  they  are  accepted  wherever  they  are 
found.  This  is  the  explanation  of  the  singular  aberrations  in 
the  love  of  the  ancients. 

"  Since  the  time  of  Christ  there  has  not  been  a  single  human 
statue  in  which  adolescent  beauty  has  been  idealised  and  repre- 
sented with  the  care  that  characterises  the  ancient  sculptors. 
Woman  has  become  the  symbol  of  moral  and  physical  beauty  : 
man  has  really  fallen  from  the  day  that  the  infant  was  born  at 
Bethlehem.  Woman  is  the  queen  of  creation  ;  the  stars  unite 
in  a  crown  upon  her  head,  the  crescent  of  the  moon  glories  in 
waxing  beneath  her  foot,  the  sun  yields  his  purest  gold  to  make 
her  jewels,  painters  who  wish  to  flatter  the  angels  give  them 
women's  faces,  and,  certes,  I  shall  not  be  the  one  to  blame 
them. 

"  Previous  to  the  gentle  and  worthy  narrator  of  parables,  it  was 
quite  the  opposite ;  gods  or  heroes  were  not  made  feminine  when 
it  was  wished  to  make  them  charming;  they  had  their  own  type, 
at  once  vigorous  and  delicate,  but  always  male,  however  amor- 
ous their  outlines  might  be,  and  however  smooth  and  destitute 
of  muscles  and  veins  the  workman  might  have  made  their 
divine  legs  and  arms.  He  was  more  ready  to  bring  the 
special  beauty  of  women  into  accordance  with  this  type.  He 
enlarged  the  shoulders,  attenuated  the  hips,  gave  more  promi- 
nence to  the  throat,  and  accentuated  the  joints  of  the  arms  and 
thighs  more  strongly.  There  is  scarcely  any  difference  between 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  201 

Paris  and  Helen.  And  so  the  hermaphrodite  was  one  of  the 
most  eagerly  cherished  chimeras  of  idolatrous  antiquity. 

"  This  son  of  Hermes  and  Aphrodite  is,  in  fact,  one  of  the 
sweetest  creations  of  Pagan  genius.  Nothing  in  the  world  can 
be  imagined  more  ravishing  than  these  two  bodies,  harmoni- 
ously blended  together  and  both  perfect,  these  two  beauties  so 
equal  and  so  different,  forming  but  one  superior  to  both, 
because  they  are  reciprocally  tempered  and  improved.  To  an 
exclusive  worshipper  of  form,  can  there  be  a  more  delightful 
uncertainty  than  that  into  which  you  arc  thrown  by  the  sight 
of  the  back,  the  ambiguous  loins,  and  the  strong,  delicate 
legs,  which  you  are  doubtful  whether  to  attribute  to  Mercury 
ready  to  take  his  flight  or  to  Diana  coming  forth  from  the 
bath  ?  The  torso  is  a  compound  of  the  most  charming  mon- 
strosities :  on  the  bosom,  which  is  plump  and  quite  pubescent, 
swells  with  strange  grace  the  breast  of  a  young  maiden ;  be- 
neath the  sides,  which  are  well  covered  and  quite  feminine  in 
their  softness,  you  may  divine  the  muscles  and  the  ribs,  as  in 
the  sides  of  a  young  lad ;  the  belly  is  rather  flat  for  a  woman, 
and  rather  round  for  a  man,  and  in  the  whole  habit  of  the  body 
there  is  something  cloudy  and  undecided  which  it  is  impossible 
to  describe,  and  which  possesses  quite  a  peculiar  attraction. 
Theodore  would  certainly  be  an  excellent  model  for  this  kind 
of  beauty ;  nevertheless,  I  think,  that  the  feminine  portion  pre- 
vails with  him,  and  that  he  has  preserved  more  of  Salmacis 
than  did  the  Hermaphrodite  of  the  Metamorphoses. 

"  It  is  a  singular  thing  that  I  have  nearly  ceased  to  think 
about  his  sex,  and  that  I  love  him  in  perfect  indifference  to  it. 
Sometimes  I  seek  to  persuade  myself  that  such  love  is  ridicu- 
lous, and  I  tell  myself  so  as  severely  as  possible ;  but  it  only 
comes  from  my  lips — it  is  a  piece  of  reasoning  which  I  go 
through  but  do  not  feel :  it  really  seems  to  me  as  if  it  were  the 
simplest  thing  in  the  world  and  as  if  any  one  else  would  do 
the  same  in  my  place. 

"I  see  him,  I  listen  to  him  speaking  or  singing — for  he  sings 
admirably — and  take  an  unspeakable  pleasure  in  doing  so.  He 
produces  the  impression  of  a  woman  upon  me  to  such  an  extent 

N 


202  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

that  one  day,  in  the  heat  of  conversation,  I  inadvertently  called 
him  Madame,  which  made  him  laugh  in  what  appeared  to  me  to 
be  a  somewhat  constrained  manner. 

"Yet,  if  it  were  a  woman,  what  motives  could  there  be  for 
this  disguise  ?  I  cannot  account  for  them  in  any  way.  It  is 
comprehensible  for  a  very  young,  very  handsome  and  perfectly 
beardless  cavalier  to  disguise  himself  as  a  woman ;  he  can  thus 
open  a  thousand  doors  which  would  have  remained  obstinately 
shut  against  him,  and  the  quid  pro  quo  may  involve  him  in  quite 
a  labyrinthine  and  jovial  complication  of  adventures.  You 
may,  in  this  manner,  reach  a  woman  who  is  strictly  guarded,  or 
realise  a  piece  of  good  fortune  under  favour  of  the  surprise. 

"  But  I  am  not  very  clear  as  to  the  advantages  to  be  derived 
by  a  young  and  beautiful  woman  from  rambling  about  in  man's 
clothes.  A  woman  ought  not  to  give  up  in  this  way  the  plea- 
sure of  being  courted,  madrigalised  and  worshipped;  she 
should  rather  give  up  her  life,  and  she  would  be  right,  for  what 
is  a  woman's  life  without  all  this?  Nothing,  or  something 
worse  than  death.  And  I  am  always  astonished  that  women 
who  are  thirty  years  old,  or  have  the  small-pox,  do  not  throw 
themselves  down  from  the  top  of  a  steeple. 

"  In  spite  of  all  this,  something  stranger  than  any  reasoning 
cries  to  me  that  it  is  a  woman,  and  that  it  is  she  of  whom  I 
have  dreamed,  she  whom  alone  I  am  to  love,  and  by  whom  I 
alone  am  to  be  loved.  Yes,  it  was  she,  the  goddess  with  eagle 
glance  and  beautiful  royal  hands,  who  used  to  smile  with  con- 
descension upon  me  from  the  height  of  her  throne  of  clouds. 
She  has  presented  herself  to  me  in  this  disguise  to  prove  me,  to 
see  whether  I  should  recognise  her,  whether  my  amorous  gaze 
would  penetrate  the  veils  which  enwrap  her,  as  in  those  won- 
drous tales  where  the  fairies  appear  at  first  in  the  forms  of 
beggars,  and  then  suddenly  stand  out  resplendent  with  gold 
and  precious  stones. 

"  I  have  recognised  thee,  O  my  love  !  At  the  sight  of  thee 
my  heart  leaped  within  my  bosom  as  did  St.  John  in  the  womb 
of  St.  Anne,  when  she  was  visited  by  the  Virgin  ;  a  blazing  light 
was  shed  through  the  air ;  I  perceived,  as  it  were,  an  odour  of 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  20? 

divine  ambrosia ;  I  saw  the  trail  of  fire  at  thy  feet,  and  I  straight- 
way understood  that  thou  wert  not  a  mere  mortal. 

"  The  melodious  sounds  of  St.  Cecilia's  viol,  to  which  the 
angels  listen  with  rapture,  are  harsh  and  discordant  in  com- 
parison with  the  pearly  cadences  which  escape  from  thy  ruby 
lips :  the  Graces,  young  and  smiling,  dance  a  ceaseless 
roundel  about  thee ;  the  birds,  warbling,  bend  their  little 
variegated  heads  to  see  thee  better  as  thou  passest  through  the 
woods,  and  pipe  to  thee  their  prettiest  refrains ;  the  amorous 
moon  rises  earlier  to  kiss  thee  with  her  pale  silver  lips,  for  she 
has  forsaken  her  shepherd  for  thee  ;  the  wind  is  careful  not  to 
efface  the  delicate  print  of  thy  charming  foot  upon  the  sand;  the 
fountain  becomes  smoother  than  crystal  when  thou  bendest  over 
it,  fearing  to  wrinkle  and  distort  the  reflection  of  thy  celestial 
countenance ;  the  modest  violets  themselves  open  up  their 
little  hearts  to  thee  and  display  a  thousand  coquetries  before 
thee ;  the  jealous  strawberry  is  piqued  to  emulation  and  strives 
to  equal  the  divine  carnation  of  thy  mouth  ;  the  imperceptible 
gnat  hums  joyously  and  applauds  thee  with  the  beating  of  its 
wings :  all  nature  loves  and  admires  thee,  who  art  her  fairest 
work  ! 

"  Ah  !  now  I  live; — until  this  moment  I  was  but  a  dead  man  : 
now  I  am  freed  from  the  shroud,  and  stretch  both  my  wasted 
hands  out  of  the  grave  towards  the  sun  ;  my  blue,  ghastly  colour 
has  left  me:  my  blood  circulates  swiftly  through  my  veins. 
The  frightful  silence  which  reigned  around  me  is  broken  at  last. 
The  black,  opaque  vault  which  weighed  heavy  on  my  brow  is 
illumined.  A  thousand  mysterious  voices  whisper  in  my  ear ; 
charming  stars  sparkle  above  me,  and  sand  the  windings  of  my 
path  with  their  spangles  of  gold ;  the  daisies  laugh  sweetly  to  me, 
and  the  bell-flowers  murmur  my  name  with  their  little  restless 
tongues.  I  understand  a  multitude  of  things  which  I  used  not 
to  understand,  I  discover  affinities  and  marvellous  sympathies,  I 
know  the  language  of  the  roses  and  nightingales  and  I  read 
with  fluency  the  book  which  once  I  could  not  even  spell. 

"  I  have  recognised  that  I  had  a  friend  in  the  respectable  old 
oak  all  covered  with  mistletoe  and  parasitic  plants,  and  that  the 


204  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

frail  and  languid  periwinkle,  whose  large  blue  eye  is  ever  run 
ning  over  with  tears,  had  long  cherished  a  discreet  and  re- 
strained passion  for  me.  It  is  love,  it  is  love  that  has  opened 
my  eyes  and  given  me  the  answer  to  the  enigma.  Love  has 
come  down  to  the  bottom  of  the  vault  where  my  soul  cowered 
numb  and  somnolent ;  he  has  taken  it  by  the  finger-tips  and 
has  brought  it  up  the  steep  and  narrow  staircase  leading  with- 
out. All  the  locks  of  the  prison  were  picked,  and  for  the  first 
time  this  poor  Psyche  came  forth  from  me  in  whom  she  had 
been  shut  up. 

"  Another  life  has  become  mine.  I  breathe  with  the  breast 
of  another,  and  a  blow  wounding  him  would  kill  me.  Before 
this  happy  day  I  was  like  those  gloomy  Japanese  idols  which 
look  down  perpetually  at  their  own  bellies.  I  was  a  spectator 
of  myself,  the  audience  of  the  comedy  that  I  was  playing ;  I 
looked  at  myself  living,  and  I  listened  to  the  oscillations  of 
my  heart  as  to  the  throbbing  of  a  pendulum.  That  was  all. 
Images  were  portrayed  on  my  heedless  eyes,  sounds  struck  my 
inattentive  ear,  but  nothing  from  the  external  world  reached 
my  soul.  The  existence  of  any  one  else  was  not  necessary  to 
me ;  I  even  doubted  any  existence  other  than  my  own,  concern- 
ing which  again  I  was  scarcely  sure.  It  seemed  to  me  that  I 
was  alone  in  the  midst  of  the  universe,  and  that  all  the  rest 
was  but  vapours,  images,  vain  illusions,  fleeting  appearances 
destined  to  people  this  nothingness.  What  a  difference ! 

"And  yet  what  if  my  presentiment  is  deceiving  me,  and 
Theodore  is  really  a  man,  as  every  one  believes  him  to  be ! 
Such  marvellous  beauties  have  sometimes  beon  seen,  and  great 
youth  assists  such  an  illusion.  It  is  something  that  I  will  not 
think  of  and  that  would  drive  me  mad ;  the  seed  fallen  yester- 
day into  the  sterile  rock  of  my  heart  has  already  pierced  it  in 
every  direction  with  its  thousand  filaments ;  it  has  clung  vigor- 
ously to  it,  and  to  pluck  it  up  would  be  impossible.  It  is  already 
a  blossoming  and  green-growing  tree  with  twisting  muscular 
roots.  If  I  came  to  know  with  certainty  that  Theodore  is  not 
a  woman,  I  do  not  know,  alas  !  whether  I  should  not  still  love 
him." 


X. 


'Y  fair  friend,  you  were  quite  right  in  dissuading 
me  from  the  plan  that  I  had  formed  of  seeing 
men  and  studying  them  thoroughly  before  giving 
my  heart  to  any  among  them.  I  have  for  ever 
extinguished  love  within  me,  and  even  the  possibility  of  love. 

"Poor  young  girls  that  we  are,  brought  up  with  so  much 
care,  surrounded  in  such  maidenly  fashion  with  a  triple  wall  of 
reticence  and  precaution,  who  are  allowed  to  understand 
nothing,  to  suspect  nothing,  and  whose  principal  knowledge  is 
to  know  nothing,  in  what  strange  errors  do  we  live,  and  what 
treacherous  chimeras  cradle  us  in  their  arms ! 

"  Ah  !  Graciosa,  thrice  cursed  be  the  minute  when  the  idea 
of  this  disguise  occurred  to  me;  what  horrors,  infamies,  brutalities 
have  I  been  forced  to  witness  or  to  hear !  what  a  treasure  of 
chaste  and  precious  ignorance  have  I  dissipated  in  but  a  short 
time  ! 

"  It  was  in  a  fair  moonlight,  do  you  remember  ?  we  were 
walking  together,  at  the  very  bottom  of  the  garden,  in  that  dull, 
little-frequented  alley,  terminated  at  one  end  by  a  statue  of  a 
flute-playing  Faun  which  has  lost  its  nose,  and  whose  whole 
body  is  covered  with  a  thick  leprosy  of  blackish  moss,  and  at  the 
other  by  a  counterfeit  view  painted  on  the  wall,  and  half-effaced 
by  the  rain. 

"  Through  the  yet  spare  foliage  of  the  yoke-elm  we  could 
here  and  there  see  the  twinkling  of  the  stars  and  the  curved 
crescent  of  the  moon.  A  fragrance  of  young  shoots  and  fresh 
plants  reached  us  from  the  parterre  with  the  languid  breath  of 


206  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

a  gentle  breeze ;  a  hidden  bird  was  piping  a  languorous  and 
whimsical  tune  ;  we,  like  true  young  girls,  were  talking  of  love, 
wooers,  marriage,  and  the  handsome  cavalier  that  we  had  seen 
at  mass ;  we  were  exchanging  our  few  ideas  of  the  world  and 
things ;  we  were  turning  over  an  expression  that  we  had 
chanced  to  hear  and  whose  meaning  seemed  obscure  and 
singular  to  us,  in  a  hundred  different  ways;  we  were  asking 
a  thousand  of  those  absurd  questions  which  only  the  most 
perfect  innocence  can  imagine.  What  primitive  poetry  and 
what  adorable  foolishness  were  there  in  those  furtive  conver- 
sations between  two  little  simpletons  who  had  but  just  left  a 
boarding-school ! 

"  You  wished  to  have  for  your  lover  a  bold,  proud  young 
fellow,  with  black  moustache  and  hair,  large  spurs,  large  feathers, 
and  a  large  sword — a  sort  of  bully  in  love,  and  you  indulged 
to  the  full  in  the  heroic  and  triumphant :  you  dreamed  of 
nothing  but  duels  and  escalades,  and  miraculous  devotion,  and 
you  would  have  been  ready  to  throw  your  glove  into  the  lions' 
den  that  your  Esplandian  might  follow  to  fetch  it.  It  was  very 
comical  to  see  you,  a  little  girl  as  you  were  then,  blonde,  blushing, 
and  yielding  to  the  faintest  blast,  delivering  yourself  of  such 
generous  tirades  all  in  a  breath,  and  with  the  most  martial  air 
in  the  world. 

"  For  myself,  although  I  was  only  six  months  older  than  you, 
I  was  six  years  less  romantic :  one  thing  chiefly  disquieted  me, 
and  this  was  to  know  what  men  said  among  themselves  and 
what  they  did  after  leaving  drawing-rooms  and  theatres ;  I  felt 
that  there  were  many  faulty  and  obscure  sides  to  their  lives, 
which  were  carefully  veiled  from  our  gaze,  and  which  it  was  very 
important  that  we  should  know.  Sometimes  hidden  behind  a 
curtain,  I  would  watch  from  a  distance  the  gentlemen  who  came 
to  the  house,  and  it  seemed  to  me  then  as  if  I  could  distinguish 
something  base  and  cynical  in  their  manner,  a  coarse  carelessness 
or  a  wild  preoccupied  look,  which  I  could  no  longer  discern  in 
them  as  soon  as  they  had  come  in,  and  which  they  seemed  to 
lay  aside,  as  by  enchantment,  on  the  threshold  of  the  room. 
All,  young  as  well  as  old,  appeared  to  me  to  have  uniformly 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  207 

adopted  conventional  masks,  conventional  opinions  and  con- 
ventional modes  of  speech  when  in  the  presence  of  women. 

"  From  the  corner  of  the  drawing-room,  where  I  used  to  sit 
as  straight  as  a  doll,  without  leaning  back  in  my  easy-chair,  I 
would  listen  and  look  as  I  rolled  my  bouquet  between  my  fingers; 
although  my  eyes  were  cast  down  I  could  see  to  right  and  to  left, 
before  me  and  behind  me :  like  the  fabulous  eyes  of  the  lynx 
my  eyes  could  pierce  through  walls,  and  I  could  have  told  what 
was  going  on  in  the  adjoining  room. 

"  I  had  also  perceived  a  noteworthy  difference  in  the  way  in 
which  they  spoke  to  married  women  ;  they  no  longer  used  dis- 
creet, polished,  and  childishly  embellished  phrases  such  as  were 
addressed  to  myself  or  my  companions,  but  displayed  bolder 
sprightliness,  less  sober  and  more  disembarrassed  manners,  open 
reticence,  and  the  ambiguity  that  quickly  comes  from  a  corruption 
which  knows  that  it  has  similar  corruption  before  it :  I  was  quite 
sensible  that  there  existed  an  element  in  common  between  them 
which  did  not  exist  between  us,  and  I  would  have  given  anything 
to  know  what  this  element  was. 

"  With  what  anxiety  and  furious  curiosity  I  would  follow  with 
eye  and  ear  the  laughing,  buzzing  groups  of  young  men,  who, 
after  making  a  halt  at  some  points  in  the  circle,  would  resume 
their  walk,  talking  and  casting  ambiguous  glances  as  they  passed. 
On  their  scornfully  puffed-up  lips  hovered  incredulous  sneers  ; 
they  looked  as  though  they  were  scoffing  atwhat  they  had  just  said, 
and  were  retracting  the  compliments  and  adoration  with  which 
they  had  overwhelmed  us.  I  could  not  hear  their  words ;  but  I 
knew  from  the  movements  of  their  lips  that  they  were  uttering 
expressions  in  a  language  with  which  I  was  unacquainted,  and 
of  which  no  one  had  ever  made  use  in  my  presence. 

"  Even  those  who  had  the  most  humble  and  submissive  air 
would  raise  their  heads  with  a  very  perceptible  shade  of  revolt 
and  weariness  ;  a  sigh  of  breathlessness,  like  that  of  an  actor  who 
has  reached  the  end  of  a  long  couplet,  would  escape  from  theii 
bosoms  in  spite  of  themselves,  and  when  leaving  us  they  would 
make  a  half-turn  on  their  heels  in  an  eager,  hurried  manner 


208  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

which  denoted  a  sort  of  internal  satisfaction  at  their  release  from 
the  hard  task  of  being  polite  and  gallant. 

"  I  would  have  given  a  year  of  my  life  to  listen,  without  being 
seen,  to  an  hour  of  their  conversation.  I  could  often  under- 
stand, by  certain  attitudes,  indirect  gestures  and  side-glances, 
that  I  was  the  subject  of  their  conversation,  and  that  they  were 
speaking  of  my  age  or  my  face.  Then  I  would  be  on  burning 
coals;  the  few  subdued  words  and  partial  scraps  of  sentences 
reaching  me  at  intervals  would  excite  my  curiosity  to  the 
highest  degree,  without  being  capable  of  satisfying  it,  and  I 
would  indulge  in  strange  perplexities  and  doubts. 

"  Generally,  what  was  said  seemed  to  be  favourable  to  me, 
and  it  was  not  this  that  disquieted  me  :  I  did  not  care  very  much 
about  being  thought  beautiful ;  it  was  the  slight  observations 
dropped  into  the  hollow  of  the  ear,  and  nearly  always  followed 
by  long  sneers  and  singular  winkings  of  the  eye,  that  is  what  I 
should  have  liked  to  hear ;  and  I  would  have  cheerfully  aban- 
doned the  most  flowery  and  perfumed  conversation  in  the  world 
to  hear  one  of  such  expressions  as  are  whispered  behind  a 
curtain  or  in  the  corner  of  a  doorway. 

"  If  I  had  had  a  lover  I  should  have  greatly  liked  to  know 
the  way  in  which  he  spoke  of  me  to  another  man,  and  the  terms 
in  which,  with  a  little  wine  in  his  head  and  both  elbows  on  the 
table-cloth,  he  would  boast  of  his  good  fortune  to  the  com- 
panions of  his  orgie. 

"  I  know  this  now,  and  in  truth  I  am  sorry  that  I  know  it. 
It  is  always  so. 

"  My  idea  was  a  mad  one,  but  what  is  done  is  done,  and 
what  is  learned  cannot  be  unlearned.  I  did  not  listen  to  you,  my 
dear  Graciosa,  and  I  am  sorry  for  it ;  but  we  do  not  always 
listen  to  reason,  especially  when  it  comes  from  such  pretty  lips 
as  yours,  for,  from  some  reason  or  other,  we  can  never  imagine 
advice  to  be  wise  unless  it  is  given  by  some  old  head  that  is 
hoary  and  grey,  as  though  sixty  years  of  stupidity  could  make 
one  intelligent. 

"  But  all  this  was  too  much  torment,  and  I  could  not  stand 
it ;  I  was  broiling  in  my  little  skin  like  a  chestnut  on  the  pan. 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  209 

The  fatal  apple  swelled  in  the  foliage  above  my  head,  and  1 
was  obliged  to  end  by  giving  it  a  bite,  being  free  to  throw  h 
away  afterwards,  if  the  flavour  seemed  bitter  to  me. 

"  I  acted  like  fair  Eve,  my  very  dear  great-grandmother,  and 
bit  it. 

"  The  death  of  my  uncle,  the  only  relation  left  to  me,  giving 
me  freedom  of  action,  I  put  into  practice  what  I  had  dreamed 
of  for  so  long.  My  precautions  were  taken  with  the  greatest 
care  to  prevent  any  one  from  suspecting  my  sex.  I  had  learned 
how  to  handle  a  sword  and  fire  a  pistol ;  I  rode  perfectly,  and 
with  a  hardihood  of  which  few  horsemen  would  have  been 
capable;  I  carefully  studied  the  way  to  wear  my  cloak  and 
make  my  riding-whip  clack,  and  in  a  few  months  I  succeeded 
in  transforming  a  girl  who  was  thought  rather  pretty  into  a  far 
more  pretty  cavalier,  who  lacked  scarcely  anything  but  a 
moustache.  I  realised  my  property,  and  left  the  town,  deter- 
mined not  to  return  without  the  most  complete  experience. 

"  It  was  the  only  means  of  clearing  up  my  doubts :  to 
have  had  lovers  would  have  taught  me  nothing,  or  would  at 
least  have  afforded  me  but  incomplete  glimpses,  and  I  wished 
to  study  man  thoroughly,  to  anatomise  him  with  inexorable 
scalpel  fibre  by  fibre,  and  to  have  him  alive  and  palpitating  on 
my  dissecting  table ;  to  do  this  it  would  be  necessary  to  see 
him  at  home,  alone  and  undressed,  and  to  follow  him  when  he 
went  out  walking,  and  visited  the  tavern  or  other  places.  With 
my  disguise  I  could  go  everywhere  without  being  remarked ; 
there  would  be  no  concealment  before  me,  all  reserve  and  con- 
straint would  be  thrown  aside,  I  would  receive  confidences,  and 
would  give  false  ones  to  provoke  others  that  were  true.  Alas  J 
women  have  read  only  man's  romance  and  never  his  history. 

"  It  is  a  frightful  thing  to  think  of,  and  one  which  is  not 
thought  of,  how  profoundly  ignorant  we  are  of  the  life  and  con- 
duct of  those  who  appear  to  love  us,  and  whom  we  are  going 
to  marry.  Their  real  existence  is  as  completely  unknown  to  us 
as  if  they  were  inhabitants  of  Saturn  or  of  some  other  planet 
a  hundred  million  leagues  from  our  sublunary  ball :  one  would 
think  that  they  were  of  a  different  species,  and  that  there  is 


210  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

not  the  slightest  intellectual  link  between  the  two  sexes ;  the 
virtues  of  the  one  are  the  vices  of  the  other,  and  what  excites 
admiration  for  a  man  brings  disgrace  upon  a  woman. 

"  As  for  us,  our  life  is  clear  and  may  be  pierced  at  a  glance. 
It  is  easy  to  follow  us  from  our  home  to  the  boarding-school, 
and  from  the  boarding-school  to  our  home ;  what  we  do  is  no 
mystery  to  anybody ;  every  one  may  see  our  bad  stump-draw 
ings,  our  water-colour  bouquets  composed  of  a  pansy  and  a  rose 
as  large  as  a  cabbage,  and  with  the  stalk  tastefully  tied  with  a 
bright-coloured  ribbon :  the  slippers  which  we  embroider  for 
our  father's  or  grandfather's  birthday  have  nothing  very  occult 
and  disquieting  in  them.  Our  sonatas  and  ballads  are  gone 
through  with  the  most  desirable  coldness.  We  are  well  and  duly 
tied  to  our  mother's  apron  strings,  and  at  nine  or  ten  o'clock  at 
the  latest  we  retire  into  our  little  white  beds  at  the  end  of 
our  discreet  and  tidy  cells,  wherein  we  are  virtuously  bolted  and 
padlocked  until  next  morning.  The  most  watchful  and  jealous 
susceptibility  could  find  nothing  to  complain  of. 

"  The  most  limpid  crystal  does  not  possess  the  transparency 
of  such  a  life. 

"  The  man  who  takes  us  knows  what  we  have  done  from  the 
minute  we  were  weaned,  and  even  before  it  if  he  likes  to  pursue 
his  researches  so  far.  Our  life  is  not  a  life,  it  is  a  species  of 
vegetation  like  that  of  mosses  and  flowers;  the  icy  shadow  of  the 
maternal  stem  hovers  over  us,  poor,  stifled  rosebuds  who  dare 
not  bloom.  Our  chief  business  is  to  keep  ourselves  very  straight, 
well  laced,  and  well  brushed,  with  our  eyes  becomingly  cast 
down,  and  for  immobility  and  stiffness  to  surpass  manikins  and 
puppets  on  springs. 

"  We  are  forbidden  to  speak,  or  to  mingle  in  the  conversation, 
except  to  answer  yes  or  no  if  we  are  asked  a  question.  As  soon 
as  anybody  is  going  to  say  something  interesting  we  are  sent 
away  to  practice  the  harp  or  harpsichord,  and  our  music-master* 
are  all  at  least  sixty  years  old,  and  take  snuff  horribly.  The 
models  hung  up  in  our  rooms  have  a  very  vague  and  evasive 
anatomy.  Before  the  gods  of  Greece  can  present  themselves 
in  a  young  ladies'  boarding-school  they  must  first  purchase  very 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  211 

ample  box-coats  at  an  old -clothes  shop  and  get  themselves 
engraved  in  stippling,  after  which  they  look  like  porters  or  cab- 
men, and  are  little  calculated  to  inflame  the  imagination. 

"In  the  anxiety  to  prevent  us  from  being  romantic  we  are  made 
idiots.  The  period  of  our  education  is  spent  not  in  teaching 
us  something,  but  in  preventing  us  from  learning  something. 

"  We  are  really  prisoners  in  body  and  mind ;  but  how  could 
a  young  man,  who  has  freedom  of  action,  who  goes  out  in  the 
morning  not  to  icturn  until  the  next  morning,  who  has  money, 
and  who  can  make  it  and  spend  it  as  he  pleases,  how  could  he 
justify  the  employment  of  his  time  ?  what  man  would  tell  his 
sweetheart  all  that  he  did  day  and  night  ?  Not  one,  even  of 
those  who  are  reputed  the  most  pure. 

"  I  had  sent  my  horse  and  my  garments  to  a  little  grange  of 
mine  at  some  distance  from  the  town.  I  dressed,  mounted, 
and  rode  off,  not  without  a  singular  heaviness  of  heart.  I  re- 
gretted nothing,  for  I  was  leaving  nothing  behind,  neither 
relations  nor  friends,  nor  dog  nor  cat,  and  yet  I  was  sad,  and 
almost  had  tears  in  my  eyes ;  the  farm  which  I  had  visited  only 
five  or  six  times  had  no  particular  interest  for  me,  and  it  was 
not  the  liking  that  we  take  for  certain  places  and  that  affects 
us  when  leaving  them  which  prompted  me  to  turn  round  two 
or  three  times  to  see  again  from  a  distance  its  spiral  of  bluish 
smoke  ascending  amid  the  trees. 

"  There  it  was  that  I  had  left  my  title  of  woman  with  my 
dresses  and  petticoats  ;  twenty  years  of  my  life  were  locked  up  in 
the  room  where  I  had  made  my  toilet,  years  which  were  to  be 
counted  no  longer,  and  which  had  ceased  to  concern  me. 
'  Here  lies  Madelaine  de  Maupin  '  might  have  been  written  on 
the  door,  for  I  was,  in  fact,  no  longer  Madelaine  de  Maupin 
but  Theodore  de  Se"rannes,  and  no  one  would  call  me  any  more 
by  the  sweet  name  of  Madelaine. 

"  The  drawer  which  held  my  henceforth  useless  dresses  ap- 
peared to  me  like  the  coffin  of  my  fair  illusions  ;  I  was  a  man, 
t>r,  at  least,  had  the  appearance  of  one:  the  young  girl  was  dead. 

"  When  I  had  completely  lost  sight  of  the  chestnut  trees  which 
surround  the  grange,  it  seemed  to  me  as  if  I  were  no  longer 


212  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

myself  but  another,  and  I  looked  back  to  my  former  actions  as 
to  the  actions  of  a  stranger  which  I  had  witnessed,  or  the 
beginning  of  a  romance  which  I  had  not  read  through  to  the 
end. 

"  I  recalled  complacently  a  thousand  little  details,  the  childish 
simplicity  of  which  brought  an  indulgent,  and  sometimes  a  rather 
scornful  smile  to  my  lips,  like  that  of  a  young  libertine  listening 
to  the  arcadian  and  pastoral  confidences  of  a  third-form  school- 
boy ;  and,  just  as  I  was  separating  myself  from  them  for  ever,  all 
the  puerilities  of  my  childhood  and  girlhood  ran  along  the  side 
of  the  road  making  a  thousand  signs  of  friendship  to  me  and 
blowing  me  kisses  from  the  tips  of  their  white  tapering  fingers. 

"  I  spurred  my  horse  to  rid  myself  of  these  enervating 
emotions ;  the  trees  sped  rapidly  past  me  on  either  side ;  but 
the  wanton  swarm,  buzzing  more  than  a  hive  of  bees,  began  to 
run  on  the  sidewalks  and  call  to  me,  '  Madelaine  !  Madelaine ! ' 

"  I  struck  my  animal's  neck  smartly  with  my  whip,  which 
made  him  redouble  his  speed.  So  rapidly  was  I  riding,  that  my 
hair  was  nearly  straight  behind  my  head,  and  my  cloak  was 
horizontal,  as  though  its  folds  were  sculptured  in  stone  ;  once  I 
looked  behind,  and  I  saw  the  dust  raised  by  my  horse's  hoofs 
ike  a  little  white  cloud  far  away  on  the  horizon. 

"  I  stopped  for  a  while. 

"  I  perceived  something  white  moving  in  a  bush  of  eglantine  at 
the  side  of  the  road,  and  a  little  clear  voice  as  sweet  as  silver  fell 
upon  my  ear  :  '  Madelaine,  Madelaine,  where  are  you  going  so 
far  away,  Madelaine  ?  I  am  your  virginity,  dear  child ;  that  is 
why  I  have  a  white  dress,  a  white  crown,  and  a  white  skin.  But 
why  are  you  wearing  boots,  Madelaine  ?  Methought  you  had  a 
very  pretty  foot.  Boots  and  hose,  and  a  large  plumed  hat  like 
a  cavalier  going  to  the  wars  !  Wherefore,  pray,  this  long  sword 
beating  and  bruising  your  thigh  ?  You  have  a  strange  equip- 
ment, Madelaine,  and  I  am  not  sure  whether  I  should  go  with 
you.' 

" '  If  you  are  afraid,  my  dear,  return  home,  go  water  my 
flowers  and  care  for  my  doves.  But,  in  truth,  you  are  wrong  ; 
you  would  be  safer  in  these  garments  of  good  cloth  than  in  your 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  213 

gauze  and  flax.  My  boots  prevent  it  being  seen  whether  I 
have  a  pretty  foot ;  this  sword  is  for  my  defence,  and  the  feather 
waving  in  my  hat  is  to  frighten  away  all  the  nightingales  who 
would  come  and  sing  false  love-songs  in  my  ear.' 

"  I  continued  my  journey  :  in  the  sighs  of  the  wind  I  thought 
I  could  recognise  the  last  phrase  of  the  sonata  which  I  had 
learned  for  my  uncle's  birthday,  and  in  a  large  rose  lifting  its  full- 
blown head  above  a  little  wall,  the  model  of  the  big  rose  from 
which  I  had  made  so  many  water-colour  drawings ;  passing 
before  a  house  I  saw  the  phantom  of  my  curtains  moving  at  a 
window.  All  my  past  seemed  to  be  clinging  to  me  to  prevent 
me  from  advancing  and  attaining  to  a  new  future. 

"  I  hesitated  two  or  three  times  and  turned  my  horse's  head 
in  the  opposite  direction. 

"  But  the  little  blue  snake  of  curiosity  hissed  softly  to  me 
insidious  words,  and  said  :  '  Go  on,  go  on,  Theodore ;  the 
opportunity  for  instruction  is  a  good  one ;  if  you  do  not  learn 
to-day,  you  will  never  know.  Will  you  give  your  noble  heart 
to  chance,  to  the  first  appearance  of  honesty  and  passion  ?  Men 
hide  many  extraordinary  secrets  from  us,  Theodore  ! ' 

"  I  resumed  my  gallop. 

"  The  hose  was  on  my  body,  but  not  in  my  disposition ;  I 
felt  a  sort  of  uneasiness,  and,  as  it  were,  a  shudder  of  fear,  to 
give  it  its  proper  name,  at  a  dark  part  of  the  forest ;  the  report 
of  a  poacher's  gun  nearly  made  me  faint.  If  it  had  been  a 
robber,  the  pistols  in  my  holsters  and  my  formidable  sword 
would  certainly  have  been  of  little  assistance  to  me.  But  by 
degrees  I  became  hardened,  and  paid  no  more  attention  to  it. 

"  The  sun  was  sinking  slowly  beneath  the  horizon,  like  the 
lustre  in  a  theatre  which  is  turned  down  when  the  performance 
is  over.  Rabbits  and  pheasants  crossed  the  road  from  time  to 
time  ;  the  shadows  became  longer,  and  the  distance  was  tinted 
with  red.  Some  portions  of  the  sky  were  of  a  very  sweet  and 
softened  lilac  colour,  others  resembled  the  citron  and  orange ; 
the  night-birds  began  to  sing,  and  a  crowd  of  strange  sounds 
issued  from  the  wood :  the  little  light  that  remained  died  away, 


214  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

and  the  darkness  became  complete,  increased,  as  it  was,  by  the 
shade  cast  by  the  trees. 

"  I,  who  had  never  gone  out  alone  at  night,  in  a  large  forest 
at  eight  o'clock  in  the  evening  !  Can  you  imagine  such  a  thing, 
Graciosa,  I  who  used  to  be  dying  of  fear  at  the  end  of  the 
garden  ?  Terror  seized  me  more  than  ever,  and  my  heart  beat 
terribly;  I  confess  that  it  was  with  great  satisfaction  that  I 
saw  the  lights  of  the  town  to  which  I  was  going,  peeping  and 
sparkling  at  the  back  of  a  hill.  As  soon  as  I  saw  those  brilliant 
specks,  like  little  terrestrial  stars,  my  fright  completely  left  me. 
It  seemed  to  me  as  if  these  indifferent  gleams  were  the  open  eyes 
of  so  many  friends  who  were  watching  for  me. 

"  My  horse  was  no  less  pleased  than  I  was  myself,  and, 
inhaling  a  sweet  stable  odour  more  agreeable  to  him  than  the 
scents  of  the  daisies  and  strawberries  in  the  woods,  he  hastened 
straight  to  the  Red  Lion  Hotel 

"  A  golden  gleam  shone  through  the  leaden  casements  of  the 
inn,  the  tin  signboard  of  which  was  swinging  right  and  left, 
and  moaning  like  an  old  woman,  for  the  north  wind  was  begin- 
ning to  freshen.  I  intrusted  my  horse  to  a  groom,  and  entered 
the  kitchen. 

"  An  enormous  fire-place  opened  its  red  and  black  jaws  in 
the  background,  swallowing  up  a  faggot  at  each  mouthful,  while 
at  either  side  of  the  andirons  two  dogs,  seated  on  their  haunches 
and  nearly  as  high  as  a  man,  were  toasting  themselves  with  all 
the  phlegm  in  the  world,  contenting  themselves  with  lifting 
their  paws  a  little  and  heaving  a  sort  of  sigh  when  the  heat  be- 
came too  intense ;  but  they  would  certainly  have  let  themselves 
be  reduced  to  cinders  rather  than  have  retired  a  step. 

"  My  arrival  did  not  appear  to  please  them ;  and  it  was  in 
vain  that  I  tried  to  become  acquainted  with  them,  by  stroking 
their  heads  now  and  then ;  they  cast  stealthy  looks  at  me  which 
imported  nothing  good.  This  surprised  me,  for  animals  come 
readily  to  me. 

"  The  inn-keeper  came  up  and  asked  me  what  I  wished  for 
supper. 

"  He  was  a  paunch-bellied  man,  with  a  red  nose,  wall  eyes. 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  2IS 

and  a  smile  that  went  round  his  head.  At  every  word  he 
uttered  he  displayed  a  double  row  of  teeth,  which  were  pointed 
and  separated  like  an  ogre's.  The  large  kitchen-knife  which 
hung  by  his  side  had  a  dubious  appearance,  and  looked  as  if  it 
might  serve  several  purposes.  When  I  had  told  him  what  I 
wanted  he  went  up  to  one  of  the  dogs  and  gave  him  a  kick 
somewhere.  The  dog  rose,  and  proceeded  towards  a  sort  of 
wheel  which  he  entered  with  a  cross  and  pitiful  look,  casting  a 
glance  of  reproach  at  me.  At  last,  seeing  that  no  mercy  was  to 
be  hoped  for,  he  began  to  turn  his  wheel,  and  with  it  the  spit 
on  which  the  chicken  for  my  supper  was  broached.  I  inwardly 
promised  to  throw  him  the  remains  of  it  for  his  trouble,  and 
began  to  look  round  the  kitchen  until  it  should  be  ready. 

"  The  ceiling  was  crossed  by  broad  oaken  joists,  all  blistered 
and  blackened  by  the  smoke  from  the  hearth  and  candles. 
Pewter  dishes  brighter  than  silver,  and  white  crockery-ware,  with 
blue  nosegays  on  it,  shone  in  the  shade  on  the  dressers.  Along 
the  walls  were  numerous  files  of  well-scoured  pans,  not  unlike 
the  ancient  bucklers  which  were  hung  up  in  a  row  along  the 
Grecian  or  Roman  triremes  (forgive  me,  Graciosa,  for  the  epic 
magnificence  of  this  comparison).  One  or  two  big  servant-girls 
were  busy  about  a  large  table  moving  plates  and  dishes  and 
forks,  the  most  agreeable  of  all  music  when  you  are  hungry, 
for  then  the  hearing  of  the  stomach  becomes  keener  than  that 
of  the  ear. 

"  In  short,  notwithstanding  the  money-box  mouth  and  saw- 
like  teeth  of  the  inn-keeper,  the  inn  had  quite  an  honest  and 
jovial  look ;  and  if  the  inn-keeper's  smile  had  been  a  fathom 
longer,  and  his  teeth  three  times  as  long  and  as  white,  still  the 
rain  was  beginning  to  patter  on  the  panes,  and  the  wind  to 
howl  in  such  a  fashion  as  to  take  away  all  inclination  to  leave, 
for  I  know  nothing  more  lugubrious  than  such  waitings  on  a 
dark  and  rainy  night. 

"  An  idea  occurred  to  me  and  made  me  smile,  and  it  was 
this, — that  nobody  in  the  world  would  come  to  look  for  me 
where  I  was. 

"Who,  indeed,  would  have  thought  that  little  Madelaine, 


216  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

instead  of  being  in  her  warm  bed  with  her  alabaster  night-lamp 
beside  her,  a  novel  under  her  pillow,  and  her  maid  in  the 
adjoining  room  ready  to  hasten  to  her  at  the  slightest  noc- 
turnal alarm,  would  be  balancing  herself  on  a  rush-bottom 
chair  at  a  country  inn  twenty  leagues  from  her  home,  her 
booted  feet  resting  on  the  andirons,  and  her  hands  swaggeringly 
thurst  into  her  pockets  ? 

"  Yes,  Madelinette  did  not  remain  like  her  companions, 
idly  resting  her  elbow  on  the  edge  of  the  balcony  among  the 
bind-weed  and  jessamine  at  the  window,  and  watching  the  violet 
fringes  on  the  horizon  at  the  end  of  the  plain,  or  some  little 
rose-coloured  cloud  rounded  by  the  May  breeze.  She  did  not 
strew  lily  leaves  through  mother-of-pearl  palaces  wherein  to 
house  her  chimeras ;  she  did  not,  like  you,  fair  dreamers,  clothe 
some  hollow  phantom  with  all  imaginable  perfections ;  she  wished 
to  be  acquainted  with  men  before  giving  herself  to  a  man ;  she 
forsook  everything,  her  beautiful  brilliant  robes  of  velvet  and 
silk,  her  necklaces,  bracelets,  birds  and  flowers ;  she  voluntarily 
gave  up  adoration,  prostrate  politeness,  bouquets  and  madrigals, 
the  pleasure  of  being  considered  more  beautiful  and  better 
dressed  than  you,  her  sweet  woman's  name  and  all  that  she 
was,  and  departed,  quite  alone,  like  a  brave  girl,  to  learn  the 
great  science  of  life  throughout  the  world. 

"If  this  were  known,  people  would  say  that  Madelaine  is  mad. 
You  have  said  it  yourself,  my  dear  Graciosa ;  but  the  truly  mad 
are  those  who  fling  their  souls  to  the  wind,  and  sow  their  love 
at  random  on  stone  and  rock,  not  knowing  whether  a  single  ear 
will  germinate. 

"  O  Graciosa !  there  is  a  thought  that  I  have  never  had 
without  terror;  the  thought  of  loving  some  one  unworthy  of  being 
loved  !  of  laying  your  soul  bare  before  impure  eyes,  and  letting 
profanity  penetrate  into  the  sanctuary  of  your  heart !  of  rolling 
your  limpid  tide  for  a  time  with  a  miry  wave  !  However  per- 
fect the  separation  may  be,  something  of  the  slime  always 
remains,  and  the  stream  cannot  recover  its  former  transparency. 

"  To  think  that  a  man  has  kissed  you  and  touched  you  ;  that 
he  has  seen  your  person;  that  he  can  say  :  She  is  like  this  or 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  217 

that ;  she  has  such  a  mark  in  such  a  place ;  she  has  such  a 
shade  in  her  soul ;  she  laughs  at  this  and  weeps  at  that ;  her 
dream  is  of  this  description  ;  here  is  a  feather  from  her  chimera's 
wing  in  my  portfolio  ;  this  ring  is  plaited  with  her  hair ;  a  piece 
of  her  heart  is  folded  up  in  this  letter ;  she  used  to  caress 
me  after  such  a  fashion,  and  this  was  her  usual  expression  of 
fondness  ! 

"  Ah  !  Cleopatra,  I  can  now  understand  why  in  the  morning 
you  had  killed  the  lover  with  whom  you  had  spent  the  night. 
Sublime  cruelty,  for  which  formerly  I  could  not  find  sufficient 
imprecations  !  Great  voluptuary,  how  well  you  knew  human 
nature,  and  what  penetration  was  shown  in  this  barbarity  ! 
You  would  not  suffer  any  living  being  to  divulge  the  mysteries 
of  your  bed ;  the  words  of  love  which  had  escaped  your  lips 
should  not  be  repeated.  Thus  you  preserved  your  pure  delu- 
sion. Experience  came  not  to  strip  piecemeal  the  charming 
phantom  that  you  had  cradled  in  your  arms.  You  preferred  to 
be  separated  from  him  by  sudden  blow  of  axe  rather  than  by 
slow  distaste. 

"  What  torture,  in  fact,  it  is  to  see  the  man  whom  you  have 
chosen  false  every  minute  to  the  idea  you  had  formed  of  him  ; 
to  discover  a  thousand  littlenesses  in  his  character  which 
you  had  not  suspected ;  to  perceive  that  what  had  appeared 
so  beautiful  to  you  through  the  prism  of  love  is  really  very 
ugly,  and  that  he  whom  you  took  for  a  true  hero  of  romance 
is,  after  all,  only  a  prosaic  citizen  who  wears  dressing-gown  and 
slippers  ! 

"  I  have  not  Cleopatra's  power,  and  it  I  had,  I  should 
assuredly  not  possess  the  energy  to  make  use  of  it.  Hence, 
being  unable  or  unwilling  to  cut  off  the  heads  of  my  lovers  as 
they  leave  my  couch,  and  being,  further,  indisposed  to  endure 
what  other  women  endure,  I  must  look  twice  before  taking  one ; 
I  shall  do  so  three  times  rather  than  twice  if  I  feel  any  inclina- 
tion in  that  direction,  which  is  doubtful  enough  after  what  I 
have  seen  and  heard ;  unless,  in  some  happy  unknown  land,  I 
meet  with  a  heart  like  my  own,  as  the  romances  say — a  virgin 
heart  and  pure,  which  has  never  loved,  and  which  is  capable 


2i8  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUl'IN. 

of  doing  so  in  the  true  sense  of  the  word, — by  no  means  an 
easy  matter. 

"  Several  gentlemen  entered  the  inn  ;  the  storm  and  darkness 
had  prevented  them  from  continuing  their  journey.  They  were 
all  young,  and  the  eldest  was  certainly  not  more  than  thirty. 
Their  dress  showed  that  they  belonged  to  the  upper  classes,  and 
without  their  dress  the  insolent  ease  of  their  manners  would  have 
readily  made  this  understood.  One  or  two  of  them  had  in 
teresting  faces ;  the  others  all  displayed,  to  a  greater  or  less 
degree,  that  species  of  brutal  joviality  and  careless  good-nature 
which  men  have  among  themselves,  and  which  they  lay  aside 
completely  when  in  our  presence 

"  If  they  could  have  suspected  that  the  frail  young  man,  half 
asleep  in  his  chair  at  the  corner  of  the  fireplace,  was  anything 
but  what  he  appeared  to  be,  and  was  really  a  young  girl,  and  fit 
for  a  king,  as  they  say,  they  would  certainly  have  quickly 
changed  their  tone,  and  you  would  immediately  have  seen  them 
bridling  up  and  making  a  display.  They  would  have  approached 
with  many  bows,  their  legs  cambered,  their  elbows  turned  out, 
and  a  smile  in  their  eyes,  on  their  lips,  in  their  nose,  in  their 
hair,  and  in  their  whole  bodily  appearance ;  they  would  have 
boned  the  words  they  made  use  of,  and  spoken  to  me  only  in 
velvet  and  satin  phrases;  at  the  least  movement,  on  my  part,  they 
would  have  looked  like  stretching  themselves  over  the  floor  after 
the  manner  of  a  carpet,  lest  the  delicacy  of  my  feet  should  be 
offended  by  its  unevenness  ;  all  their  hands  would  have  been 
advanced  to  support  me  ;  the  softest  seat  would  have  been  pre- 
pared in  the  best  place — but  I  looked  like  a  pretty  boy,  and  not 
like  a  pretty  girl. 

"  I  confess  that  I  was  almost  ready  to  regret  my  petticoats 
when  I  saw  what  little  attention  they  paid  to  me.  For  a  minute 
I  was  quite  mortified;  for,  from  time  to  time,  I  forgot  that  I  was 
wearing  man's  clothes,  and  had  to  think  of  the  fact  in  order  to 
prevent  myself  from  growing  cross. 

"  There  I  was,  not  speaking  a  word,  my  arms  folded,  looking 
apparently  with  great  attention  at  the  chicken,  which  was 
assuming  a  more  and  more  rosy-tinted  complexion,  and  the 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUFIN.  219 

unfortunate  dog  which  I  had  so  unluckily  disturbed,  and 
which  was  striving  in  its  wheel  like  several  devils  in  the  same 
holy-water  basin 

"  The  youngest  of  the  set  came  up,  and,  giving  me  a  clap  on 
the  shoulder,  which,  upon  my  word,  hurt  me  a  good  deal,  and 
drew  a  little  involuntary  cry  from  me,  asked  me  whether  I  would 
not  rather  sup  with  them  than  quite  by  myself,  seeing  that  the 
drinking  would  go  on  all  the  better  for  plenty  of  company.  I 
replied  that  this  was  a  pleasure  I  should  not  have  dared  to  hope 
for,  and  that  I  should  be  very  happy  to  do  so.  Our  covers 
were  then  laid  together,  and  we  sat  down  to  table. 

"  The  panting  dog,  after  snapping  up  an  enormous  porringer- 
ful  of  water  with  three  laps  of  his  tongue,  went  back  to  his  post 
opposite  the  other  dog,  which  had  not  stirred  any  more  than  if 
he  had  been  made  of  porcelain,  the  new-comers,  by  Heaven's 
special  grace,  not  having  asked  for  a  chicken. 

"  From  some  words  which  they  let  drop,  I  learned  that  they 
were  repairing  to  the  court,  which  was  then  at  —  — ,  where 
they  were  to  join  other  friends  of  theirs.  I  told  them  that  I 
was  a  gentleman's  son  who  was  leaving  the  university  and 
going  to  some  relations  in  the  country  by  the  regular  pupil's 
road,  namely,  the  longest  he  could  find.  This  made  them 
laugh,  and  after  some  remarks  about  my  innocent  and  candid 
looks  they  asked  me  whether  I  had  a  mistress.  I  replied 
that  I  did  not  know,  and  they  laughed  still  more.  The 
bottles  followed  one  another  with  rapidity  ;  although  I  was 
careful  to  leave  my  glass  nearly  always  full,  my  head  was 
somewhat  heated,  and  not  losing  sight  of  my  purpose,  I 
brought  the  conversation  round  to  women.  This  was  not 
difficult;  for,  next  to  theology  and  aesthetics,  they  are  the 
subject  on  which  men  are  the  readiest  to  talk  when  drunk. 

"  My  companions  were  not  precisely  drunk, — they  carried 
their  wine  too  well  for  that, — but  they  began  to  enter  into 
moral  discussions  at  random,  and  to  put  their  elbows  uncere- 
moniously on  the  table.  One  of  them  had  even  passed  his  arm 
around  the  thick  waist  of  one  of  the  serving-women,  and  was 
nodding  his  head  in  very  amorous  fashion.  Another  swore 


220  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

that  he  would  instantly  burst,  like  a  toad  that  had  been  given 
snuff,  if  Jeannette  would  not  let  him  take  a  kiss  on  each  of 
the  big  red  apples  which  served  her  for  cheeks  ;  and  Jeannette, 
not  wishing  him  to  burst  like  a  toad,  presented  them  to  him 
with  a  very  good  grace,  and  did  not  even  arrest  a  hand 
that  audaciously  found  its  way  through  the  folds  of  her 
neckerchief  into  the  moist  valley  of  her  bosom,  which  was 
very  imperfectly  guarded  by  a  little  golden  cross,  and  it  was 
only  after  a  short  whispered  parley  that  he  let  her  go  and 
take  away  the  dish. 

"  Yet  they  belonged  to  the  court,  and  had  elegant  manners, 
and  unless  I  had  seen  it,  I  should  certainly  never  have  thought 
of  accusing  them  of  such  familiarities  with  the  servants  of  an 
inn.  Probably  they  had  just  left  charming  mistresses  to  whom 
they  had  sworn  the  finest  oaths  in  the  world.  In  truth,  I  should 
never  have  dreamed  of  charging  my  lover  not  to  sully  the  lips 
on  which  I  had  laid  my  own  along  the  cheeks  of  a  trollop. 

"  The  rogue  appeared  to  take  great  pleasure  in  this  kiss, 
neither  more  nor  less  than  if  he  had  embraced  Phyllis  or 
Ariadne.  It  was  a  big  kiss,  solidly  and  frankly  applied,  which 
left  two  little  white  marks  on  the  wench's  flaming  cheek,  and 
the  trace  of  which  she  wiped  away  with  the  back  of  the  hand 
that  had  just  washed  the  plates  and  dishes.  I  do  not  believe 
that  he  ever  gave  so  naturally  tender  a  one  to  his  heart's  pure 
deity.  This  was  apparently  his  own  thought,  for  he  said  in  an 
undertone,  with  quite  a  scornful  movement  of  his  elbow — 

"  '  To  the  devil  with  lean  women  and  lofty  sentiments  !' 

"  This  moral  appeared  to  suit  the  company,  and  they  all 
wagged  their  heads  in  token  of  assent. 

"  '  Upon  my  word,'  said  the  other,  following  out  his  idea,  '  I 
am  unfortunate  in  everything.  Gentlemen,  I  must  confide  to 
you  under  the  seal  of  the  greatest  secrecy,  that  I,  I  who  am 
speaking  to  you,  have  at  this  moment  a  flame.' 

"  '  Oh  !  oh  ! '  said  the  others,  '  a  flame  !  That  is  lugubrious 
to  the  last  degree.  And  what  do  you  do  with  a  flame  ? ' 

"  '  She  is  a  virtuous  woman,  gentlemen  .  you  must  not  laugh, 
gentlemen  ;  for,  after  all,  why  should  I  not  have  a  virtuous 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  221 

woman  ?  Have  I  said  anything  ridiculous.  Here  !  you  over 
there  !  I  will  throw  the  house  at  your  head  if  you  are  not  quiet.' 

"  '  Well !  what  next  ?  ' 

"  '  She  is  mad  about  me.  She  has  the  most  beautiful  soul 
in  the  world ;  in  point  of  souls,  I  understand  them, — I  under- 
stand them  at  least  as  well  as  I  do  horses,  and  I  assure  you  that 
it  is  a  soul  of  the  first  quality.  There  are  elevations,  ecstasies, 
devotions,  sacrifices,  refinements  of  tenderness,  everything  you 
can  think  of  that  is  most  transcendent ;  but  she  has  scarcely 
any  bosom,  she  has  none  at  all,  even,  like  a  little  girl  of 
fifteen  at  most  She  is  otherwise  pretty  enough ;  her  hand 
is  delicate,  and  her  foot  small ;  she  has  too  much  mind  and 
not  enough  flesh,  and  I  often  think  of  leaving  her  in  the 
lurch.  The  devil !  One  can't  be  content  with  minds.  I  am 
very  unfortunate  ;  pity  me,  my  dear  friends.'  And,  affected  by 
the  wine  that  he  had  drunk,  he  began  to  weep  bitterly. 

"  '  Jeannette  will  console  you  for  the  misfortune  of  going  to 
bed  with  sylphids,'  said  his  neighbour,  pouring  him  out  a 
bumper ;  '  her  soul  is  so  thick  that  you  might  make  bodies 
of  it  for  other  people,  and  she  has  flesh  enough  to  clothe 
the  carcasses  of  three  elephants.' 

"  O  pure  and  noble  woman  !  didst  thou  but  know  what  is 
said  at  random  of  thee,  in  a  tavern,  and  in  the  presence  of 
strangers,  by  the  man  whom  thou  lovest  best  in  the  world,  and 
to  whom  thou  hast  sacrificed  everything  !  how  he  strips  thee 
without  shame,  and  impudently  surrenders  thee  in  thy  naked- 
ness to  the  drunken  gaze  of  his  comrades,  whilst  thou  art 
mournful  yonder,  thy  chin  in  thy  hand,  and  thine  eyes  turned 
towards  the  road  by  which  he  is  to  return  ! 

"  Had  some  one  come  and  told  thee  that  thy  lover,  twenty- 
four  hours  perhaps  after  leaving  thee,  was  courting  a  base 
servant-girl,  and  had  arranged  to  pass  the  night  with  her, 
thou  wouldst  have  maintained  that  it  was  impossible,  and 
wouldst  have  refused  to  believe  it ;  scarcely  wouldst  thou  have 
trusted  thine  eyes  and  ears.  Yet  it  was  so. 

"The  conversation  lasted  some  time  longer,  and  was  the 
maddest  and  most  shameless  in  the  world ;  but  through  all  the 


222  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

facetious  exaggeration  and  the  often  filthy  jests,  there  was 
apparent  a  deep  and  genuine  feeling  of  perfect  contempt  for 
women,  and  I  learned  more  during  that  evening  than  by  reading 
twenty  cart-loads  of  moralists. 

"  The  monstrous  and  unheard-of  things  that  I  was  listening 
to  imparted  a  tinge  of  sadness  and  severity  to  my  face,  which 
the  rest  of  the  guests  perceived,  and  about  which  they  teased 
me  good-naturedly  ;  but  my  gaiety  could  not  return.  I  had, 
indeed,  suspected  that  men  were  not  such  as  they  appear  to  us, 
but  yet  I  did  not  think  that  they  were  so  different  from  their 
masks,  and  my  disgust  was  not  greater  than  my  surprise. 

"  I  should  require  only  half  an  hour  of  such  conversation  to 
cure  a  romantic  young  girl  for  ever ;  it  would  do  her  more  good 
than  any  maternal  remonstrances. 

'•  Some  boasted  of  gaining  as  many  women  as  they  pleased, 
and  that  to  do  so  cost  them  only  a  word  ;  others  communicated 
recipes  for  procuring  mistresses,  or  enlarged  upon  the  tactics  to 
be  pursued  when  laying  siege  to  virtue  ;  others  again  ridiculed 
the  women  whose  lovers  they  were,  and  proclaimed  themselves 
the  most  arrant  fools  on  earth  to  be  attached,  in  this  way,  to 
such  trulls.  They  all  made  light  of  love. 

"  These,  then,  are  the  thoughts  which  they  conceal  from  us 
beneath  all  their  fair  appearances  !  Who  would  -ever  think 
it,  to  see  them  so  humble,  so  cringing,  so  ready  to  do  any- 
thing ?  Ah  !  how  hardily  they  raise  their  heads  after  their 
conquest,  and  insolently  set  the  heel  of  their  boot  on  the 
brow  which  they  used  to  worship  at  a  distance  on  their  knees  ! 
what  vengeance  they  take  for  their  passing  abasement !  how 
dearly  must  their  politeness  be  paid  for !  and  through  what 
many  insults  they  repose  after  the  madrigals  they  made  !  What 
mad  brutality  of  language  and  thought !  what  inelegance  of 
manners  and  deportment !  It  is  a  complete  change,  and  one 
which  certainly  is  not  to  their  advantage.  However  far  my 
previsions  might  reach,  they  fell  far  short  of  the  reality. 

"  Ideal,  blue  flower  with  heart  of  gold,  blooming  all  pearly 
with  dew  beneath  the  sky  of  spring,  in  the  scented  breath  of 
soft  dreamings,  whose  fibrous  roots,  a  thousand  times  more 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  223 

slender  than  fairies'  silken  tresses,  sink  into  the  depths  of 
our  souls  with  their  thousand  hair-covered  heads  to  drink  in 
thence  the  purest  substance ;  flower  so  sweet  and  so  bitter, 
we  cannot  pluck  thee  forth  without  causing  the  heart  to  bleed 
in  all  its  recesses  ;  from  the  broken  stem  ooze  red  drops, 
which,  falling  one  by  one  into  the  lake  of  our  tears,  serve 
to  measure  for  us  the  limping  hours  of  our  death-watch  by 
the  bedside  of  expiring  Love. 

"  Ah  !  cursed  flower,  how  thou  hadst  sprung  up  in  my 
soul !  thy  branches  had  multiplied  more  than  nettles  in  a 
ruin.  The  young  nightingales  came  to  drink  from  thy  cup 
and  sing  beneath  thy  shade  ;  diamond  butterflies,  with  emerald 
wings  and  ruby  eyes,  hovered  and  danced  about  thy  frail  gold- 
powdered  pistils  ;  swarms  of  flaxen  bees  sucked  thy  poisonous 
honey  without  mistrust ;  chimeras  folded  their  swan-like  wings 
and  crossed  their  lion  claws  beneath  their  beauteous  throats 
to  rest  beside  thee.  The  tree  of  the  Hesperides  was  not 
better  guarded  ;  sylphids  gathered  the  tears  of  the  stars  in  the 
urns  of  the  lilies,  and  watered  thee  each  night  with  their  magic 
watering-vessels. 

"  Plant  of  the  ideal,  more  venomous  than  the  manchineel 
or  the  upas  tree,  what  it  costs  me,  despite  thy  treacherous 
blossoms  and  the  poison  inhaled  with  thy  perfume,  to  uproot 
thee  from  my  soul !  Neither  the  cedar  of  Lebanon,  nor  the 
gigantic  baobab,  nor  the  palm  a  hundred  cubits  high,  could 
together  fill  the  place  which  thou  didst  occupy  quite  alone, 
little  blue  flower  with  heart  of  gold  ! 

"  Supper  came  to  an  end  at  last,  and  we  contemplated  going 
to  bed ;  but,  as  the  number  of  sleepers  was  double  that  of  the 
beds,  it  naturally  followed  that  we  must  go  to  bed  in  turn 
or  else  two  together.  It  was  a  very  simple  matter  for  the 
rest  of  the  company,  but  not  so  by  any  means  for  me,  taking 
into  account  certain  protuberances  which  were  disguised  con- 
veniently enough  beneath  vest  and  doublet,  but  which  a  simple 
shirt  would  have  betrayed  in  all  their  damnable  roundness; 
and  I  was  certainly  little  disposed  to  disclose  my  incognito  in 
favour  of  any  of  these  gentlemen  who  at  that  moment  appeared 


224  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

to  me  veritable  and  ingenuous  monsters,  though  I  afterwards 
found  them  very  decent  fellows,  and  worth  at  least  as  much  as 
any  of  their  species. 

"  He  with  whom  I  was  to  share  a  bed  was  fairly  drunk.  He 
threw  himself  on  the  mattress,  with  one  leg  and  arm  hanging 
to  the  ground,  and  at  once  went  to  sleep,  not  the  sleep  of  the 
just,  but  a  sleep  so  profound  that  if  the  angel  of  the  last  judg- 
ment had  come  and  blown  his  clarion  in  his  ear  he  would  have 
failed  to  wake  him.  Such  a  sleep  greatly  simplified  the  diffi- 
culty; I  took  off  nothing  but  my  doublet  and  boots,  strode 
over  the  sleeper's  body,  and  stretched  myself  on  the  sheets  at 
the  edge  of  the  bed. 

"  I  was  careful  to  keep  my  distance.  It  was  not  a  bad 
beginning !  I  confess  that,  in  spite  of  my  assurance,  I  was 
singularly  troubled.  The  situation  was  so  strange,  so  novel, 
that  I  could  scarcely  admit  that  it  was  not  a  dream.  The 
other  slept  his  best,  but  I  could  not  close  an  eye  the  whole 
night. 

"  He  was  a  young  man,  about  twenty-four  years  of  age,  with 
rather  a  handsome  face,  dark  eyelashes,  and  a  nearly  blonde 
moustache;  his  long  hair  rolled  around  his  head  like  the 
waves  from  the  inverted  urn  of  a  river-god,  a  light  blush 
passed  beneath  his  pale  cheeks  like  a  cloud  beneath  the 
water,  his  lips  were  half  open  and  smiling  with  a  vague  and 
languid  smile. 

"  I  raised  myself  upon  my  elbow,  and  remained  a  long  time 
watching  him  by  the  flickering  light  of  a  candle,  of  which  the 
tallow  h«d  nearly  all  run  down  in  broad  sheets,  and  the  wick 
was  laden  with  black  wasters. 

"  We  were  separated  by  a  considerable  interval.  He  occu- 
pied one  extreme  edge  of  the  bed,  while  I,  as  an  additional 
precaution,  had  thrown  myself  quite  on  the  other. 

"  What  I  had  heard  was  assuredly  not  of  a  nature  to  predis 
jose  me  to  tenderness  and  voluptuousness  :  I  held  men  in 
ibomination.  Nevertheless  I  was  more  disquieted  and  agitated 
tnan  I  ought  to  have  been  :  my  body  did  not  share  in  the 
repugnance  of  my  mind  so  completely  as  it  should  have  done. 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  225 

My  heart  was  beating  violently,  I  was  hot,  and  on  whatevei 
side  I  turned  I  could  not  find  repose. 

"  The  most  profound  silence  reigned  in  the  inn ;  you  could 
only  hear  at  wide  intervals  the  dull  noise  caused  by  the  hoof 
of  some  horse  striking  the  stone-floor  in  the  stable,  or  the  sound 
of  a  drop  of  water  falling  upon  the  ashes  through  the  shaft  of 
the  chimney.  The  candle,  reaching  the  end  of  the  wick,  went 
out  in  smoke. 

"  The  densest  darkness  fell  like  a  curtain  between  us.  You 
cannot  conceive  the  effect  which  the  sudden  disappearance  of 
the  light  had  upon  me.  It  seemed  to  me  as  if  all  were  ended, 
and  I  were  never  more  to  see  clearly  in  my  life  For  a  moment 
I  wished  to  get  up ;  but  what  could  I  have  done  ?  It  was  only  two 
o'clock  in  the  morning,  all  the  lights  were  out,  and  I  could  not 
wander  about  like  a  phantom  in  a  strange  house.  I  was  obliged 
to  remain  where  I  was  and  wait  for  daylight. 

"  There  I  was  on  my  back,  with  both  hands  crossed,  striving 
to  think  of  something,  and  always  coming  back  to  this :  that 
a  man  was  lying  near  me.  At  one  moment  I  went  so  far  as 
to  wish  that  he  would  awake  and  perceive  that  I  was  a  woman. 
No  doubt  the  wine  that  I  had  drunk,  though  sparingly,  had 
something  to  do  with  this  extraordinary  idea,  but  I  could  not 
help  recurring  to  it.  I  was  on  the  point  of  stretching  out  my 
hand  towards  him,  to  wake  him  up,  but  a  fold  in  the  bed- 
clothes which  checked  my  arm  prevented  me  from  going 
through  with  it.  Time  was  thus  given  me  for  reflection,  and 
while  I  was  freeing  my  arm,  my  senses,  which  I  had  altogether 
lost,  came  back  to  me,  not  entirely,  perhaps,  but  sufficiently 
to  restrain  me. 

"  How  curious  it  would  have  been,  if  I,  scornful  beauty 
as  I  was,  I  who  wished  to  be  acquainted  with  ten  years  of  a 
man's  life  before  giving  him  my  hand  to  kiss,  had  surrendered 
myself  on  a  pallet  in  an  inn  to  the  first  comer !  and  upon  my 
word  such  a  thing  might  have  happened. 

"  Can  a  sudden  effervescence,  a  boiling  of  the  blood,  so  com 
pletely  subdue  the  most  superb  resolves  ?     Does  the  voice  of 
the  body  speak  in  higher  tones  than  the  voice  of  the  mind  p 


226  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

Whenever  my  pride  sends  too  many  puffs  heavenwards,  I  bring 
the  recollection  of  that  night  before  its  eyes  to  recall  it  to  earth. 
I  am  beginning  to  be  of  man's  opinion  :  what  a  poor  thing  is 
woman's  virtue  !  on  what,  good  heavens,  does  it  depend  ! 

"  Ah !  it  is  vain  to  seek  to  spread  one's  wings,  they  are 
laden  with  too  much  clay ;  the  body  is  an  anchor  which  holds 
back  the  soul  to  earth :  fruitlessly  does  she  open  her  sails  to 
the  wind  of  the  loftiest  ideas,  the  vessel  remains  motionless,  as 
though  all  the  remoras  of  the  ocean  were  clinging  to  the  keel. 
Nature  takes  pleasure  in  such  sarcasms  at  our  expense.  When 
she  sees  a  thought  standing  on  its  pride  as  on  a  lofty  column, 
and  nearly  touching  heaven  with  its  head,  she  whispers  to  the 
red  fluid  to  quicken  its  pace  and  crowd  at  the  gates  of  the 
arteries;  she  commands  the  temples  to  sing  and  the  ears  to 
tingle,  and,  behold,  giddiness  seizes  the  proud  idea.  All  images 
are  blended  and  confused,  the  earth  seems  to  undulate  like  the 
deck  of  a  bark  in  a  storm,  the  heavens  turn  round,  and  the 
stars  dance  a  saraband;  the  lips  which  used  to  utter  only 
austere  maxims  are  wrinkled  and  put  forward  as  though  for 
kisses ;  the  arms  so  firm  to  repel  grow  soft,  and  become  more 
supple  and  entwining  than  scarves.  Add  to  this  contact  with 
an  epidermis  and  a  breath  across  your  hair,  and  all  is  lost. 

"  Often  even  less  is  sufficient.  A  fragrance  of  foliage  coming 
to  you  from  the  fields  through  your  half-opened  window,  the 
sight  of  two  birds  billing  each  other,  an  opening  daisy,  an  old 
love-song  which  returns  to  you  in  your  own  despite  and  which 
you  repeat  without  understanding  its  meaning,  a  warm  wind 
which  troubles  and  intoxicates  you,  the  softness  of  your  bed  or 
divan — one  of  these  circumstances  is  sufficient ;  even  the  soli- 
tude of  your  room  makes  you  think  that  it  would  be  comfort- 
able for  two,  and  that  no  more  charming  nest  could  be  found 
for  a  brrod  of  pleasures.  The  drawn  curtains,  the  twilight,  the 
silence,  all  bring  back  to  you  the  fatal  idea  which  brushes  you 
with  its  dove-like  wings  and  coos  so  sweetly  about  you.  The 
tissues  which  touch  you  seem  to  caress  you,  and  cling  with 
amorous  folds  along  your  body.  Then  the  young  girl  opens 
her  arms  to  the  first  wooer  with  whom  she  finds  herself  alone ; 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  227 

the  philosopher  leaves  his  page  unfinished,  and,  with  his  head 
in  his  mantle,  runs  in  all  haste  to  assuage  his  passion. 

"  I  certainly  did  not  love  the  man  who  was  causing  me  such 
strange  perturbations.  He  had  no  other  charm  than  that  he 
was  not  a  woman,  and,  in  the  condition  in  which  I  found 
myself,  this  was  enough  !  A  man  !  that  mysterious  thing  which 
is  concealed  from  us  with  so  much  care,  that  strange  animal,  of 
whose  history  we  know  so  little,  that  demon  or  god  who  alone 
can  realise  all  the  dreams  of  vague  voluptuousness  wherewith 
the  spring-time  flatters  our  sleep,  the  sole  thought  that  we  have 
from  fifteen  years  of  age  ! 

"  A  man  !  The  confused  notion  of  pleasure  floated  through 
my  dulled  head.  The  little  that  I  knew  of  it  kindled  my  desire 
still  more.  A  burning  curiosity  urged  me  to  clear  up  once  for 
all  the  doubts  which  perplexed  me,  and  were  for  ever  recur- 
ring to  my  mind.  The  solution  of  the  problem  was  over  the 
leaf:  it  was  only  necessary  to  turn  it,  the  book  was  beside 
me.  A  handsome  cavalier,  a  narrow  bed,  a  dark  night  ! — a 
young  girl  with  a  few  glasses  of  champagne  in  her  head  ! 
what  a  suspicious  combination  !  Well  !  the  result  of  it  all  was 
but  a  very  virtuous  nothingness. 

"  On  the  wall,  upon  which  I  kept  my  eyes  fixed,  I  began,  in 
the  diminishing  darkness,  to  distinguish  the  position  of  the 
window ;  the  panes  became  less  opaque,  and  the  grey  light 
of  dawn,  glancing  behind  them,  restored  their  transparency  ; 
the  sky  brightened  by  degrees  :  it  <vas  day.  You  cannot 
imagine  the  pleasure  given  me  by  that  pale  ray  of  light  on 
the  green  dye  of  the  Aumale  serge  which  surrounded  the 
glorious  battlefield  whereon  my  virtue  had  triumphed  over 
my  desires  !  It  seemed  to  me  as  though  it  were  my  crown 
of  victory. 

"  As  to  my  companion,  he  had  fallen  out  on  to  the  ground. 

"  I  got  up,  adjusted  my  dress  as  quickly  as  possible,  and 
ran  to  the  window ;  I  opened  it,  and  the  morning  breeze  did 
me  good.  I  placed  myself  before  the  looking-glass  in  order 
to  comb  my  hair,  and  was  astonished  at  the  paleness  of  my 
countenance,  which  I  had  believed  to  be  purple. 


228  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

"  The  others  came  in  to  see  whether  we  were  still  asleep, 
and  pushed  their  friend  with  their  feet,  who  did  not  appear 
much  surprised  at  finding  himself  where  he  was. 

"  The  horses  were  saddled,  and  we  set  out  again. 

"  But  this  is  enough  for  to-day.  My  pen  will  not  write  any 
more,  and  I  do  not  want  to  mend  it ;  another  time  I  will 
tell  you  the  rest  of  my  adventures ;  meanwhile,  love  me  as  I 
love  you,  well  named  Graciosa,  and  do  not,  from  what  I  have 
just  told  you,  form  too  bad  an  opinion  of  my  virtue." 


,0. 


XL 


'ANY  things  are  tiresome.  It  is  tiresome  to  pay 
hack  the  money  you  have  borrowed  and  become 
accustomed  to  look  on  as  your  own  ;  it  is 
tiresome  to  fondle  to-day  the  woman  you  loved 
yesterday ;  it  is  tiresome  to  go  to  a  house  at  the  dinner-hour 
and  find  that  the  owners  left  for  the  country  a  month  ago  ; 
it  is  tiresome  to  write  a  novel,  and  more  tiresome  to  read 
one ;  it  is  tiresome  to  have  a  pimple  on  your  nose  and  cracked 
lips  on  the  day  that  you  visit  the  idol  of  your  heart ;  it  is  tire- 
some to  wear  facetious  boots  which  smile  on  the  pavement 
from  every  seam,  and,  above  all,  to  harbour  a  vacuum  behind 
the  cobwebs  in  your  pocket ;  it  is  tiresome  to  be  a  door-porter ; 
it  is  tiresome  to  be  an  emperor  ;  it  is  tiresome  to  be  your- 
self, and  even  to  be  some  one  else ;  it  is  tiresome  to  go  on 
foot  because  it  hurts  your  corns,  on  horseback  because  it 
skins  the  antithesis  of  the  front,  in  a  coach  because  a  big 
man  infallibly  makes  a  pillow  of  your  shoulder,  on  the  packet 
because  you  are  sea-sick  and  vomit  your  entire  self ;  it  is 
tiresome  to  have  winter  because  you  shiver,  and  summer 
because  you  perspire;  but  the  most  tiresome  thing  on  earth, 
in  hell,  or  in  heaven  is  assuredly  a  tragedy,  unless  it  be  a 
drama  or  a  comedy. 

"  It  really  makes  my  heart  ache.  What  could  be  more  silly 
and  stupid  ?  Are  not  the  great  tyrants  with  voices  like 
bulls,  who  stride  across  the  stage  from  one  wing  to  the  other, 
making  their  hairy  arms  go  like  the  wings  of  a  windmill, 
and  imprisoned  in  flesh-coloured  stockings,  but  sorry  counter 


«30  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

feits   of  Bluebeard   or   Bogey  !      Their   rodomontades  might 
make  any  one  who  could  keep  awake  burst  out  laughing. 

"  Women  who  are  unfortunate  in  love  are  no  less  ridiculous. 
It  is  diverting  to  see  them  advance,  clad  in  black  or  white, 
with  their  hair  weeping  on  their  shoulders,  sleeves  weeping 
on  their  hands,  and  their  bodies  ready  to  leap  from  the  corset 
like  a  fruit-stone  pressed  between  the  fingers  ;  looking  as  if 
they  were  dragging  the  floor  by  the  sole  of  their  satin  slippers, 
and,  in  their  great  impulses  of  passion,  spurning  their  trains 
backward  with  a  little  kick  from  their  heel.  The  dialogue, 
composed  exclusively  of  Oh  !  and  Ah  !  which  they  cluck  as  they 
display  their  feathers,  is  truly  agreeable  food  and  easy  of 
digestion.  Their  princes  are  also  very  charming;  they  are 
only  somewhat  dark  and  melancholy,  which  does  not,  how- 
ever, prevent  them  from  being  the  best  companions  in  the 
world  or  elsewhere. 

"As  to  comedy  which  is  to  correct  manners,  and  which 
fortunately  acquits  itself  badly  enough  of  its  task,  the  sermons 
of  fathers  and  iterations  of  uncles  are,  to  my  mind,  as 
wearisome  on  the  stage  as  in  real  life.  I  am  not  of  opinion 
that  the  number  of  fools  should  be  doubled  by  the  repre- 
sentation of  them  ;  there  are  quite  enough  of  them  as  it  is, 
thank  heaven,  and  the  race  is  not  likely  to  come  to  an  end. 
Where  is  the  necessity  of  portraying  somebody  who  has  a 
pig's  snout  or  ox's  muzzle,  and  of  gathering  together  the  trash 
of  a  clown  whom  you  would  throw  out  of  the  window  if  he 
came  into  your  house  ?  The  image  of  a  pedant  is  no  more 
interesting  than  the  pedant  himself,  and  his  reflection  in  a 
mirror  does  not  make  him  the  less  a  pedant.  An  actor  who 
succeeded  in  imitating  the  attitudes  and  manners  of  cobblers  to 
perfection  would  not  amuse  me  more  than  a  real  cobbler. 

"  But  there  is  a  theatre  which  I  love,  a  fantastic,  extravagant, 
impossible  theatre,  in  which  the  worthy  public  would  pitilessly 
hiss  from  the  first  scene,  for  want  of  understanding  a  single 
word. 

"  It  is  a  singular  theatre.  Glow-worms  take  the  place  of 
Argand  lamps,  and  a  scarabaeus,  beating  time  with  his  antennge, 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  231 

is  placed  at  the  desk.  The  cricket  takes  his  part ;  the 
nightingale  is  first  flute  ;  little  sylphs  issuing  from  the  peas- 
blossom  hold  basses  of  citron-peel  between  their  pretty  legs 
which  are  whiter  than  ivory,  and  with  mighty  power  of  arm 
move  their  bows,  made  with  a  hair  from  Titania's  eyelash, 
over  strings  of  spiders'  thread  ;  the  little  wig  with  its  three 
hammers,  which  the  scarabaeus  conductor  wears,  quivers  with 
pleasure  and  diffuses  about  it  a  luminous  dust,  so  sweet  is  the 
harmony  and  so  well  executed  the  overture  ! 

"  A  curtain  of  butterflies'  wings,  more  delicate  than  the 
interior  pellicle  of  an  egg,  rises  slowly  after  the  three  indis- 
pensable raps.  The  house  is  full  of  the  souls  of  poets  seated 
in  stalls  of  mother-of-pearl,  and  watching  the  performance 
through  dewdrops  set  on  the  golden  pistils  of  lilies.  These 
are  their  opera-glasses. 

"  The  scenery  is  not  like  any  known  scenery  ;  the  country 
which  it  represents  is  as  strange  as  was  America  before  its 
discovery.  The  palette  of  the  richest  painter  has  not  half  the 
tones  with  which  it  is  diapered.  All  is  painted  in  odd  and 
singular  colours.  The  verditer,  the  blue-ash,  the  ultramarine, 
and  the  red  and  yellow  lake  are  in  profusion. 

"  The  sky,  which  is  of  a  greenish-blue,  is  striped  zebra-wise 
with  broad  flaxen  and  tawny  bands  ;  in  the  middle  distance 
spare  and  slender  trees  wave  their  scanty  foliage  the  colour  of 
dried  roses  ;  the  distance,  instead  of  being  drowned  in  its  azure- 
tinted  vapour,  is  of  the  most  beautiful  apple-green,  and  here 
and  there  escape  spirals  of  golden  smoke.  A  wandering  ray 
hangs  on  the  portal  of  a  ruined  temple  or  the  spire  of  a 
tower.  Towns  full  of  bell- turrets,  pyramids,  domes,  arcades, 
and  ramps,  are  seated  on  the  hills  and  reflected  in  crystal 
lakes ;  large  trees  with  broad  leaves,  deeply  carved  by  the 
chisels  of  the  fairies,  inextricably  entwine  their  trunks  and 
branches  to  form  the  wings.  Over  their  heads  the  clouds  of 
heaven  collect  like  snow-flakes,  through  their  interstices  the 
eyes  of  dwarfs  and  gnomes  are  seen  to  sparkle,  and  their  tortuous 
roots  sink  into  the  soil  like  the  finger  of  a  giant-hand.  The 
woodpecker  keeps  time  as  he  taps  them  with  his  horny  beak, 


232  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

and  emerald  lizards  bask  in  the  sun  on  the  moss  at  their 
foot. 

"The  mushroom  looks  on  at  the  comedy  with  his  hat  on 
his  head,  like  the  insolent  fellow  that  he  is.  The  dainty 
violet  stands  up  on  her  little  tiptoes  between  two  blades  of 
grass,  and  opens  her  blue  eyes  wide  to  see  the  hero  pass. 

"  The  bullfinch  and  the  linnet  lean  down  at  the  end  of 
the  boughs  to  prompt  the  actors  in  their  parts. 

"  Through  the  tall  grasses,  the  lofty  purple  thistles  and 
the  velvet-leaved  burdocks,  wind,  like  silver  snakes,  brooks  that 
are  formed  with  the  tears  of  stags  at  bay.  At  wide  intervals 
anemones  are  seen  shining  on  the  turf  like  drops  of  blood,  and 
daisies,  like  veritable  duchesses,  carrying  high  their  heads  laden 
with  crowns  of  pearls. 

"  The  characters  are  of  no  time  or  country  ;  they  come 
and  go  without  our  knowing  why  or  how;  they  neither  eat 
nor  drink,  they  dwell  nowhere  and  have  no  occupation ; 
they  possess  neither  lands,  nor  incomes,  nor  houses ;  only 
sometimes  they  carry  under  their  arm  a  little  box  full  of 
diamonds  as  big  as  pigeons'  eggs ;  as  they  walk  they  do  not 
shake  a  single  drop  of  rain  from  the  heads  of  the  flowers 
nor  raise  a  single  grain  of  the  dust  on  the  roads. 

"  Their  dress  is  the  most  extravagant  and  fantastical  in 
the  world.  Pointed  steeple-shaped  hats  with  brims  as  broad 
as  a  Chinese  parasol  and  immoderate  plumes  plucked  from  the 
tails  of  the  bird  of  paradise  and  the  phoenix  ;  cloaks  striped 
with  brilliant  colours,  doublets  of  velvet  and  brocade,  letting 
the  satin  or  silver-cloth  lining  be  seen  through  their  gold- 
laced  slashings ;  hose  puffed  and  swollen  like  balloons  ;  scarlet 
stockings,  with  embroidered  clocks,  shoes  with  high  heels 
and  large  rosettes  ;  little  slender  swords,  with  the  point  in  the 
air  and  the  hilt  depressed,  covered  with  cords  and  ribbons — 
so  for  the  men. 

"  The  women  are  no  less  curiously  accoutred. 

"  The  drawings  of  Delia  Bella  and  Romain  de  Hooge 
might  serve  to  represent  the  character  of  their  attire.  There 
are  stuffed,  undulating  robes  with  great  folds,  whose  colours 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  233 

play  like  those  on  the  necks  of  turtle-doves,  and  reflect  all 
the  changing  tints  of  the  iris,  large  sleeves  whence  other  sleeves 
emerge,  ruffs  of  open-slashed  lace  rising  higher  than  the  head 
which  they  serve  to  frame,  corsets  laden  with  knots  and 
embroideries,  aiglets,  strange  jewels,  crests  of  heron  plumes, 
necklaces  of  big  pearls,  fans  formed  from  the  peacock's  tail 
with  mirrors  in  the  centre,  little  slippers  and  pattens,  garlands 
of  artificial  flowers,  spangles,  wire-worked  gauzes,  paint,  patches, 
and  everything  that  can  add  flavour  and  piquancy  to  a  theatri 
cal  toilette. 

"  It  is  a  style  which  is  not  precisely  English,  nor  German, 
nor  French,  nor  Turkish,  nor  Spanish,  nor  Tartar,  though  it 
partakes  somewhat  of  all  these,  and  is  one  which  has  adopted 
what  is  most  graceful  and  characteristic  from  every  country. 
Actors  dressed  in  this  manner  may  say  what  they  will  without 
doing  violence  to  probability.  Fancy  may  rove  in  all  directions, 
style  may  at  its  ease  unroll  its  diapered  rings  like  a  snake 
basking  in  the  sun ;  the  most  exotic  conceits  may  fearlessly 
spread  their  singular  flower-cups  and  diffuse  around  them  their 
perfume  of  amber  and  musk.  Nothing  hinders  it, — neither 
places,  nor  names,  nor  costume. 

"  How  amusing  and  charming  are  their  utterances  !  They 
are  not  such  actors  as  contort  their  mouths  and  make  their  eyes 
start  out  of  their  heads  in  order  to  despatch  their  tirade  with 
effect  like  our  dramatic  howlers  ;  they,  at  least,  have  not  the 
appearance  of  workmen  at  their  task,  or  of  oxen  yoked  to  the 
action  and  hastening  to  get  done  with  it ;  they  are  not  plastered 
with  chalk  and  rouge  half  an  inch  thick ;  they  do  not  carry  tin 
daggers  nor  keep  a  pig's  bladder  filled  with  chicken's  blood  in 
reserve  beneath  their  cloaks ;  they  do  not  trail  the  same  oil- 
stained  rags  through  entire  acts. 

"  They  speak  without  hurry  or  clamour,  like  well-bred 
people  who  attach  no  great  importance  to  what  they  are  doing  : 
the  lover  makes  his  declaration  with  the  easiest  air  in  the 
world ;  he  taps  his  thigh  with  the  tip  of  his  white  glove,  or  ad- 
justs the  leg  of  his  trousers  while  he  is  speaking ;  the  lady  care- 
lessly shakes  the  dew  from  her  bouquet  and  exchanges  witticisms 

p 


234  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

with  her  attendant ;  the  lover  takes  very  little  trouble  to  soften 
his  cruel  fair  :  his  principal  business  is  to  drop  clusters  of  pearls 
and  bunches  of  roses  from  his  lips,  and  to  scatter  poetic  gems 
like  a  true  spendthrift ;  often  he  effaces  himself  entirely,  and  lets 
the  author  court  his  mistress  in  his  stead.  Jealousy  is  no  fault 
of  his,  and  he  is  of  the  most  accommodating  disposition.  With 
his  eyes  raised  to  the  flies  and  friezes  of  the  theatre,  he  com- 
placently waits  until  the  poet  has  finished  saying  what  has 
taken  his  fancy,  to  resume  his  part  and  place  himself  again 
upon  his  knees. 

"  All  is  woven  and  unwoven  with  admirable  carelessness : 
effects  have  no  causes,  and  causes  no  effects ;  the  most  witty 
character  is  he  who  says  most  absurdities  ;  the  most  foolish  says 
the  wittiest  things ;  young  girls  talk  in  a  way  that  would  make 
courtesans  blush,  and  courtesans  utter  maxims  of  morality.  The 
most  unheard-of  adventures  follow  one  after  another  without 
any  explanation;  the  noble  father  arrives  from  China  in  a 
bamboo  junk  expressly  to  recognise  a  little  girl  who  has  been 
carried  off;  gods  and  fairies  do  nothing  but  ascend  and  de- 
scend in  their  machines.  The  action  plunges  into  the  sea  be- 
neath the  topaz  dome  of  the  waves,  traversing  the  bottom  of 
the  ocean  through  forests  of  coral  and  madrepore,  or  rises  to 
heaven  on  the  wings  of  lark  and  griffin. 

"  The  dialogue  is  most  universal :  the  lion  contributes  a  vigor- 
ously uttered  oh  !  oh ! — the  wall  speaks  through  its  chinks,  and 
provided  that  he  has  a  witticism,  rebus,  or  pun  to  interpose, 
any  one  is  free  to  interrupt  the  most  interesting  scene :  the 
ass's  head  of  Bottom  is  as  welcome  as  the  golden  head  of 
Ariel ;  the  author's  mind  may  be  discerned  beneath  every  form, 
and  all  these  contradictions  are  like  so  many  facets  which  reflect 
its  different  aspects  while  imparting  to  it  the  colours  of  the 
prism. 

"  This  apparent  pell-mell  and  disorder  succeeds  after  all  in 
representing  real  life  with  more  exactness  in  its  fantastic  pre- 
sentations than  the  most  minutely  studied  drama  of  manners. 
Every  man  comprises  the  whole  of  humanity  within  himself, 
and  by  writing  what  comes  into  his  head,  he  succeeds  better 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  235 

than  by  copying  through  a  magnifying  glass  objects  which  are 
external  to  him. 

"  What  a  glorious  family  !  young  romantic  lovers,  roaming 
damsels,  serviceable  attendants,  caustic  buffoons,  artless  valets 
and  peasants,  gracious  kings,  whose  names  and  kingdoms  are 
unknown  to  historian  and  geographer ;  motley  graciosos,  clowns 
with  sharp  repartees  and  miraculous  capers ;  O  you  who  give 
utterance  to  free  caprice  through  your  smiling  lips,  I  love  you 
and  adore  you  among  and  above  all  others  :  Perdita,  Rosalind, 
Celia,  Pandarus,  Parolles,  Silvio,  Leander,  and  the  rest,  all  those 
charming  types,  so  false  and  so  true,  who,  in  the  checkered 
wings  of  folly  soar  above  gross  reality,  and  in  whom  the  poet 
personifies  his  joy,  his  melancholy,  his  love,  and  his  most  in- 
timate dream  beneath  the  most  frivolous  and  flippant  appear- 
ances. 

"  Among  these  plays  which  were  written  for  the  fairies,  and 
should  be  performed  by  the  light  of  the  moon,  there  is  one 
piece  which  principally  delights  me — a  piece  so  wondering,  so 
vagrant,  with  so  vaporous  a  plot  and  such  singular  characters, 
that  the  author  himself,  not  knowing  what  title  to  give  it,  has 
called  it  '  As  You  Like  It,'  an  elastic  name  which  satisfies 
every  requirement. 

"  When  reading  this  strange  piece,  you  feel  that  you  are 
transported  into  an  unknown  world,  of  which,  however,  you 
have  some  vague  recollection :  you  can  no  longer  tell 
whether  you  are  dead  or  alive,  dreaming  or  awake ;  pleasant 
faces  smile  sweetly  on  you,  and  give  as  they  pass  you  a  kindly 
good-day ;  you  feel  moved  and  troubled  at  the  sight  of  them, 
as  though  at  the  turn  of  a  road  you  had  suddenly  met  with 
your  ideal,  or  the  forgotten  phantom  of  your  first  mistress 
had  suddenly  stood  before  you.  Springs  flow  murmuring  half- 
subdued  complaints ;  the  wind  stirs  the  old  trees  of  the  ancient 
forest  over  the  head  of  the  aged  exiled  duke  with  compassionate 
sighs ;  and,  when  the  melancholy  Jacques  gives  his  philosophic 
griefs  to  the  stream  with  the  leaves  of  the  willow,  it  seems  to  you 
as  though  you  were  yourself  the  speaker,  and  the  most  obscure 
and  secret  thoughts  of  your  heart  were  illumined  and  revealed 


236  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

"O  young  son  of  the  brave  knight  Rowland  des  Bois,  so  ill- 
used  by  fate  !  I  cannot  but  be  jealous  of  thee ;  thou  hast  still 
a  faithful  servant,  the  good  Adam,  whose  old  age  is  so  green 
beneath  the  snow  of  his  hair.  Thou  art  banished,  but  not  at 
least  until  thou  hast  wrestled  and  triumphed ;  thy  wicked  brother 
robs  thee  of  all  thine  estate,  but  Rosalind  gives  thee  the  chain 
from  her  neck  ;  thou  art  poor,  but  thou  art  loved  ;  thou  leavest 
thy  country,  but  the  daughter  of  thy  persecutor  follows  thee 
beyond  the  seas. 

"  The  dark  Ardennes  open  their  great  arms  of  foliage  to 
receive  thee  and  conceal  thee ;  the  good  forest,  in  the  depths  of 
its  grottos,  heaps  its  most  silky  moss  to  form  thy  couch ;  it 
stoops  its  arches  above  thy  brow  to  protect  thee  from  rain  and 
sun  ;  it  pities  thee  with  the  tears  of  its  springs  and  the  sighs  of  its 
belling  fawns  and  deer ;  it  makes  of  its  rocks  kindly  desks  for 
thy  amorous  epistles  ;  it  lends  thee  thorns  from  its  bushes  where- 
with to  hang  them,  and  commands  the  satin  bark  of  its  aspen 
trees  to  yield  to  the  point  of  thy  stiletto  when  thou  wouldst 
grave  thereon  the  character  of  Rosalind. 

"  If  only  it  were  possible,  young  Orlando,  to  have  like  thee 
a  great  and  shady  forest  that  one  might  retire  and  be  alone  in 
his  pain,  and,  at  the  turning  of  a  walk  meet  the  sought  for  she, 
recognisable  though  disguised !  But  alas !  the  world  of  the 
soul  has  no  verdant  Ardennes,  and  only  in  the  garden  of  poetry 
bloom  the  wild,  capricious  little  flowers  whose  perfume  gives 
complete  forgetfulness.  In  vain  do  we  shed  tears  :  they  form 
not'those  fair  silvery  cascades;  in  vain  do  we  sigh  :  no  kindly 
echo  troubles  to  return  us  our  complaints  graced  with  asson- 
ances and  conceits.  Vainly  do  we  hang  sonnets  on  the  prickles 
of  every  bramble  :  Rosalind  never  gathers  them,  and  it  is  for 
nothing  that  we  gash  the  bark  of  the  trees  with  amorous 
characters. 

"  Birds  of  the  sky  lend  me  each  a  feather,  swallow  no  less 
than  eagle,  and  humming  bird  than  roc,  that  I  may  make  me  a 
pair  of  wings  to  fly  high  and  fast  through  regions  unknown, 
where  I  may  find  nothing  to  bring  back  to  my  recollection  the 
city  of  the  living,  where  I  may  forget  that  I  am  myself,  and  live 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  237 

a  life  strange  and  new,  farther  than  America,  than  Africa, 
than  Asia,  than  the  last  island  of  the  world,  through  the  ocean 
of  ice,  beyond  the  pole  where  trembles  the  aurora  borealis,  in 
the  impalpable  kingdom  whither  the  divine  creations  of  the 
poets  and  the  types  of  supreme  beauty  take  their  flight. 

"  How  is  it  possible  to  sustain  ordinary  conversations  in 
clubs  and  drawing-rooms  after  hearing  thee  speak,  sparkling 
Mercutio,  whose  every  phrase  bursts  in  gold  and  silver  rain  like 
a  firework  shell  beneath  a  star-strewn  sky  ?  Pale  Desdemona, 
what  pleasure  wouldst  thou  have  us  take  in  any  terrestrial  music 
after  the  romance  of  the  Willow?  What  women  seem  not 
ugly  beside  your  Venuses,  ancient  sculptors,  poets  in  marble 
strophes  ? 

"  Ah !  despite  the  furious  embrace  with  which  I  wished  to 
clasp  the  material  world  for  lack  of  the  other,  I  feel  that  I 
have  an  evil  nature,  that  life  was  not  made  for  me,  and  that  it 
repulses  me ;  I  cannot  concern  myself  with  anything :  what- 
ever road  I  follow  I  go  astray ;  the  smooth  alley  and  the  stony 
path  alike  lead  me  to  the  abyss.  If  I  wish  to  take  my  flight 
the  air  condenses  about  me,  and  I  am  caught  with  my  wings 
spread  and  unable  to  close  them.  I  can  neither  walk  nor  fly ; 
the  sky  attracts  me  when  I  am  on  earth,  and  the  earth  when  I 
am  in  the  sky ;  above,  the  north  wind  tears  away  my  plumes ; 
below,  the  pebbles  wound  my  feet.  My  soles  are  too  tender 
to  walk  upon  the  broken  glass  of  reality ;  my  wings  of  too  short 
a  span  to  soar  above  things,  and  rise  from  circle  to  circle  into 
the  azure  depths  of  mysticism,  even  to  the  inaccessible  summits 
of  eternal  love ;  I  am  the  most  unfortunate  hippogriff,  the  most 
wretched  heap  of  heterogeneous  pieces  that  ever  existed,  since 
ocean  first  loved  the  moon  and  man  was  deceived  by  woman  : 
the  monstrous  Chimaera  slain  by  Bellerophon,  with  its  maiden's 
head,  lion's  paws,  goat's  body,  and  dragon's  tail,  was  an  animal 
of  simple  composition  in  comparison  with  me. 

"  In  my  frail  breast  dwell  together  the  violet-strewn  dreamings 
of  the  chaste  young  girl  and  the  mad  burnings  of  revelling 
courtesans :  my  desires  go,  like  lions,  sharpening  their  claws  in 
the  shade  and  seeking  for  something  to  devour ;  my  thoughts, 


238  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN 

more  feverish  and  restless  than  goats,  cling  to  the  most  menac- 
ing crests;  my  hatred,  poison-puffed,  twists  its  scaly  folds  in 
inextricable  knots,  and  drags  itself  at  length  through  ruts  and 
ravines. 

"  A  strange  land  is  my  soul,  a  land  flourishing  and  splendid 
in  appearance,  but  more  saturated  with  putrid  and  deleterious 
nuisances  than  the  land  of  Batavia :  the  least  ray  of  sunshine 
on  the  slime  causes  reptiles  to  hatch  and  mosquitoes  to  swarm ; 
the  large  yellow  tulips,  the  nagassaris  and  the  angsoka  flowers 
pompously  veil  unclean  carrion.  The  amorous  rose  opens  her 
.scailet  lips,  and  smiling  shows  her  little  dewdrop  teeth  to  the 
wooing  nightingales  who  repeat  madrigals  and  sonnets  to  her : 
nothing  could  be  more  charming ;  but  the  odds  are  a  hundred 
to  one  that  there  is  a  dropsical  toad  in  the  grass  beneath  the 
bushes,  crawling  on  limping  feet  and  silvering  his  path  with 
his  slime. 

"  There  are  springs  more  limpid  and  clear  than  the  purest 
diamond ;  but  it  would  be  better  for  you  to  draw  the  stag- 
nant water  of  the  marsh  beneath  its  cloak  of  rotten  rushes 
and  drowned  dogs  than  to  dip  your  cup  in  such  a  wave.  A 
serpent  is  hidden  at  the  bottom,  and  wheels  round  with  frightful 
quickness  as  he  discharges  his  venom. 

"  You  planted  wheat,  and  there  springs  up  asphodel,  henbane, 
darnel,  and  pale  hemlock  with  verdigris  branches.  Instead 
of  the  root  which  you  had  buried,  you  are  astonished  to  see 
emerging  from  the  earth  the  hairy,  twisted  limbs  of  the  dark 
mandragora. 

"  If  you  leave  a  souvenir,  and  should  come  to  take  it  again 
some  time  afterwards,  you  will  find  it  greener  with  moss  and 
more  abounding  with  woodlice  and  disgusting  insects  than  a 
stone  placed  on  the  dank  floor  of  a  cave. 

"  Seek  not  to  cross  its  dark  forests ;  they  are  more  im- 
practicable than  the  virgin  forests  of  America  or  the  jungles 
of  Java.  Creepers,  strong  as  cables,  run  from  one  tree  to 
another ;  plants  bristling  and  pointed  like  spear-heads  obstrucf 
every  passage;  the  grass  itself  is  covered  with  a  scorching 
down  like  that  of  the  nettle.  To  the  arches  of  foliage  gigantic 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  239 

bats  of  the  vampire  kind  cling  by  their  claws ;  scarabees  of 
enormous  size  shake  their  threatening  horns  and  lash  the  air 
with  their  quadruple  wings ;  monstrous  and  fantastic  animals, 
such  as  are  seen  passing  in  nightmares,  advance  painfully 
breaking  the  reeds  before  them.  There  are  troops  of  elephants 
crushing  the  flies  between  the  wrinkles  of  their  dried  skin 
or  rubbing  their  flanks  along  the  stones  and  trees,  rhinoceroses 
with  rugose  carapace,  hippopotami  with  swollen  muzzle  and 
bristling  hair,  which,  as  they  go,  knead  the  mud  and  detritus 
of  the  forest  with  their  broad  feet. 

"  In  the  glades,  yonder  where  the  sun  thrusts  in  a  luminous 
ray  like  a  wedge  of  gold,  across  the  dank  humidity,  at  the 
place  where  you  would  have  wished  to  seat  yourself,  you 
will  always  find  some  family  of  tigers  carelessly  couched, 
breathing  the  air  through  their  nostrils,  winking  their  sea- 
green  eyes  and  glossing  their  velvety  fur  with  their  blood- 
red,  papillae-covered  tongues ;  or,  it  may  be,  a  knot  of  boa 
serpents  half  asleep  and  digesting  the  bull  they  swallowed 
last. 

"Dread  everything — grass,  fruit,  water,  air,  shadow,  sun, 
everything  is  mortal. 

"  Close  your  ear  to  the  chatter  of  the  little  paroquets, 
with  golden  beak  and  emerald  neck,  which  descend  from  the 
trees  and  come  and  perch  on  your  finger  with  throbbing  wings ; 
for  the  little  emerald-necked  paroquets  will  finish  by  prettily 
putting  out  your  eyes  with  their  golden  beaks  at  the  moment 
that  you  are  bending  down  to  kiss  them.  So  it  is  ! 

"The  world  will  have  none  of  me;  it  repulses  me  as  a 
spectre  escaped  from  the  tombs,  and  I  am  nearly  as  pale  as 
one.  My  blood  refuses  to  believe  that  I  am  alive,  and  will 
not  colour  my  skin ;  it  creeps  slowly  through  my  veins 
like  stagnant  water  in  obstructed  canals.  My  heart  beats  for 
nothing  which  causes  the  heart  of  man  to  beat.  My  griefs 
and  joys  are  not  those  of  my  fellow-creatures.  I  have 
vehemently  desired  what  nobody  desires  ;  I  have  scorned  things 
which  are  madly  longed  for.  I  have  loved  women  when  they 
did  not  love  me,  and  I  have  been  loved  when  I  would  fain  have 


240  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

been  hated.  Always  too  soon  or  too  late,  more  or  less,  on  this 
side  or  on  that;  never  what  ought  to  have  been ;  either  I  have 
not  arrived,  or  I  have  been  too  far.  I  have  flung  my  life 
through  the  windows,  or  concentrated  it  upon  a  single  point, 
and  from  the  restless  activity  of  the  ardelio  I  have  come  to  the 
dull  somnolence  of  the  teriaki  and  the  stylite  on  his  column. 

"  What  I  do  has  always  the  appearance  of  a  dream ;  my 
actions  seem  to  be  the  result  rather  of  somnambulism  than  of 
a  free-will ;  there  is  something  within  me  which  I  feel 
vaguely  at  a  great  depth,  and  which  causes  me  to  act  without 
my  own  participation  and  always  independently  of  general 
laws ;  the  simple  and  natural  side  of  things  is  never  revealed 
to  me  until  after  all  the  others,  and  at  first  I  always  fasten 
upon  what  is  eccentric  and  odd.  However  slightly  the  line 
may  slant  I  soon  make  it  into  a  spiral  more  twisted  than  a  ser- 
pent ;  outlines,  if  they  are  not  fixed  in  the  most  precise  manner, 
become  confused  and  distorted.  Faces  assume  a  supernatural 
air,  and  look  at  you  with  frightful  eyes. 

"Thus,  by  a  species  of  instinctive  reaction,  I  have  always 
clung  desperately  to  matter,  to  the  external  silhouette  of  things, 
and  in  art  have  always  given  a  very  important  place  to  the  plastic. 
I  understand  a  statue  perfectly,  while  I  cannot  understand 
a  man  ;  where  life  begins,  I  stop  and  shrink  back  affrighted, 
as  though  I  had  seen  Medusa's  head.  The  phenomenon  of 
life  causes  me  an  astonishment  which  I  cannot  overcome. 
No  doubt  I  shall  make  an  excellent  dead  man,  for  I  am  a 
very  poor  living  one,  and  the  sense  of  my  existence  com- 
pletely escapes  me.  The  sound  of  my  voice  surprises  me 
to  an  unimaginable  degree,  and  I  might  be  tempted  sometimes 
to  take  it  for  the  voice  of  another.  When  I  wish  to  stretch 
forth  my  arm,  and  my  arm  obeys  me,  the  fact  seems  quite 
a  prodigious  one  to  me,  and  I  sink  into  the  profoundest 
stupefaction. 

"On  the  other  hand,  Silvio,  I  have  a  perfect  comprehen- 
sion of  the  unintelligible ;  the  most  extravagant  notions  seem 
quite  natural  to  me,  and  I  enter  into  them  with  singular 
facility.  I  can  find  with  ease  the  connection  of  the  most 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  241 

capricious  and  disordered  nightmare.  This  is  the  reason  why 
the  kind  of  pieces  I  was  just  speaking  to  you  about  pleases  me 
beyond  all  others. 

"  We  have  great  discussions  on  this  subject  with  Theodore 
and  Rosette.  Rosette  has  little  liking  for  my  system,  she  is  for 
the  true  truth ;  Theodore  gives  more  latitude  to  the  poet, 
and  admits  a  conventional  and  optical  truth  ;  for  my  part, 
I  maintain  that  the  author  must  have  a  clear  stage  and  that 
fancy  should  reign  supreme. 

"  Many  of  the  company  grounded  their  arguments  chiefly 
on  the  fact  that  such  pieces  were,  as  a  general  rule,  indepen- 
dent of  theatrical  conditions  and  could  not  be  performed  ;  I 
replied  that  this  was  true  in  one  sense  and  false  in  another, 
like  nearly  everything  that  is  said,  and  that  the  ideas  enter- 
tained respecting  scenic  possibilities  and  impossibilities  ap- 
peared to  me  to  be  wanting  in  exactness,  and  to  be  the  result 
rather  of  prejudices  than  of  reason.  Among  other  things,  I 
said  that  the  piece  'As  You  Like  It'  was  assuredly  most 
presentable,  especially  for  people  in  society  who  were  not 
practised  in  other  parts. 

"  This  suggested  the  idea  of  performing  it.  The  season  is 
advancing,  and  we  have  exhausted  every  description  of 
amusement ;  we  are  tired  of  hunting,  and  of  parties  on  horse- 
back, or  on  the  water ;  the  chances  of  boston,  varied  as  they 
are,  have  not  piquancy  enough  to  fill  up  an  evening,  and  the 
proposal  was  received  with  universal  enthusiasm. 

"  A  young  man  who  knew  how  to  paint  volunteered  to  make 
the  scenery ;  he  is  working  at  it  now  with  much  ardour,  and  in 
a  few  days  it  will  be  finished.  The  stage  is  erected  in  the 
orangery,  which  is  the  largest  hall  in  the  mansion,  and  I  think 
that  everything  will  turn  out  well.  I  am  taking  the  part  of 
Orlando,  and  Rosette  was  to  have  played  Rosalind, — which  was 
a  most  proper  arrangement.  As  my  mistress,  and  the  mistress  of 
the  house,  the  part  fell  toiler  of  right ;  but  owing  to  a  caprice 
singular  enough  in  her,  prudery  not  being  one  of  her  faults, 
she  would  not  disguise  herself  as  a  man.  Had  I  not  been  sure 
of  the  contrary,  I  should  have  believed  that  her  legs  were  badly 


242  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN, 

shaped.  Actually  none  of  the  ladies  of  the  party  would  show 
herself  less  scrupulous  than  Rosette,  and  this  nearly  caused  the 
failure  of  the  piece ;  but  Theodore,  who  had  taken  the  part  of 
the  melancholy  Jaques,  offered  to  replace  her,  seeing  that 
Rosalind  is  a  cavalier  nearly  the  whole  time,  except  in  the  first 
act  where  she  is  a  woman,  and  that  with  paint,  corset,  and 
dress,  he  will  be  able  to  effect  the  illusion  sufficiently  well, 
having  as  yet  no  beard,  and  being  of  a  very  slight  figure. 

"  We  are  engaged  in  learning  our  parts,  and  it  is  something 
curious  to  see  us.  In  every  solitary  nook  in  the  park  you  are 
sure  to  find  some  one,  paper  in  hand,  muttering  phrases  in  a 
whisper,  raising  his  eyes  to  heaven,  suddenly  casting  them 
down,  and  repeating  the  same  gesture  seven  or  eight  times.  If  it 
were  not  known  that  we  are  to  perform  a  comedy,  we  should 
assuredly  be  taken  for  a  houseful  of  lunatics  or  poets  (which  is 
almost  a  pleonasm). 

"  I  think  that  we  shall  soon  know  enough  to  have  a  rehearsal. 
I  am  expecting  something  very  singular.  Perhaps  I  am  wrong. 
I  was  afraid  for  a  moment  that  instead  of  playing  by  inspiration 
our  actors  would  endeavour  to  reproduce  the  attitudes  and 
voice-inflections  of  some  fashionable  performer ;  but  fortunately 
they  have  not  watched  the  stage  with  sufficient  accuracy  to  fall 
into  this  inconvenience,  and  it  is  to  be  expected  that,  through 
the  awkwardness  of  people  who  have  never  trod  the  boards,  they 
will  display  precious  flashes  of  nature  and  that  charming  ingenu- 
ousness which  the  most  consummate  talent  cannot  reproduce. 
"  Our  young  painter  has  truly  wrought  wonders.  It  would 
be  impossible  to  give  a  stranger  shape  to  the  old  trunks  of  trees 
and  the  ivy  which  entwines  them ;  he  has  taken  pattern  by 
those  in  the  park,  accentuating  and  exaggerating  them  as  is 
necessary  for  the  stage.  Everything  is  expressed  with  admir- 
able boldness  and  caprice  ;  stones,  rocks,  clouds,  are  of  a 
mysteriously  grimacing  form ;  mirror-like  reflections  play  on 
the  trembling  waters  which  are  less  stable  than  quicksilver,  and 
the  ordinary  coldness  of  the  foliage  is  marvellously  relieved  by 
saffron  tints  dashed  in  by  the  brush  of  autumn ;  the  forest 
varies  from  emerald  green  to  cornelian  purple ;  the  warmest  and 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  243 

the  freshest  tones  show  harmoniously  together,  and  the  sky 
itself  passes  from  the  softest  blue  to  the  most  burning  colours. 

"  He  has  designed  all  the  costumes  after  my  instructions,  and 
they  are  of  the  handsomest  description.  At  first  the  performers 
cried  that  they  could  not  be  produced  in  silk  or  velvet  nor 
in  any  known  material,  and  I  nearly  saw  the  moment  when 
troubadour  costume  was  to  be  generally  adopted.  The  ladies 
said  that  such  glaring  colours  would  eclipse  their  eyes.  To 
which  we  replied  that  their  eyes  were  stars  which  were  perfectly 
inextinguishable,  and  that  on  the  contrary  it  was  their  eyes  that 
would  eclipse  the  colours,  and  even,  if  need  were,  the  Argand 
lamps,  the  lustre,  and  the  sun.  They  had  no  reply  to  this; 
but  there  were  other  objections  which  kept  springing  up  in 
a  bristling  crowd  like  the  Lernean  hydra ;  no  sooner  was  the 
head  of  one  cut  off  than  another  more  obstinate  and  more 
stupid  would  arise. 

"  '  How  do  you  think  this  will  keep  together  ? ' — '  It  is  all  very 
well  on  paper,  but  it  is  another  matter  when  on  one's  back ;  I 
shall  never  be  able  to  get  into  that ! ' — '  My  petticoat  is  at  least 
four  finger-lengths  too  short ;  I  shall  never  dare  to  show  myself 
in  that  disguise  ! ' — '  This  ruff  is  too  high  ;  I  look  as  if  I  were  a 
hunchback  and  had  no  neck.' — 'This  headdress  makes  me  look 
intolerably  old.' 

"  '  With  starch,  pins,  and  good-will,  everything  will  hold.' — 
'  You  are  joking  !  a  waist  like  yours,  more  frail  than  a  wasp's, 
and  one  which  would  go  through  the  ring  on  my  little  finger  !  I 
will  wager  twenty-five  louis  to  a  kiss  that  it  will  be  necessary  to 
take  in  this  bodice  ! ' — '  Your  petticoat  is  very  far  from  being 
too  short,  and  if  you  knew  what  an  adorable  leg  you  have,  you 
would  most  certainly  be  of  my  opinion.' — 'On  the  contrary, 
your  neck  stands  out  and  is  admirably  set  off  by  its  aureola  of 
lace.' — '  This  headdress  does  not  make  you  look  old  in  the  least, 
and,  even  if  you  appeared  to  be  a  few  years  older,  you  are  so 
extremely  young  that  this  ought  to  be  a  matter  of  perfect  indif- 
ference to  you ;  indeed,  you  would  give  us  grounds  for  strange 
suspicions  if  we  did  not  know  where  the  pieces  of  your  last 
doll  are ' — etc. 


244  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUP1N. 

"  You  cannot  imagine  what  a  prodigious  quantity  of  madri- 
gals we  were  obliged  to  dispense  in  order  to  compel  our  ladies 
to  put  on  charming  costumes  which  were  most  becoming  to 
them. 

"  We  found  it  equally  troublesome  to  induce  them  to  place 
their  patches  in  an  appropriate  manner.  What  a  devil  of  a  taste 
women  have !  and  what  Titanic  obstinacy  possesses  a  vapourish, 
foppish  woman  who  believes  that  glazed  straw-yellow  suits  her 
better  than  jonquil  or  bright  rose-colour.  I  am  sure  that  if 
I  had  devoted  to  public  affairs  half  the  artifices  and  intrigues 
that  I  have  employed  in  order  to  have  a  red  feather  placed 
on  the  left  and  not  on  the  right,  I  should  be  a  minister  of  state 
or  emperor  at  the  least. 

"  What  a  pandemonium !  what  an  enormous  and  inextric- 
able rout  must  a  real  theatre  be  ! 

"  From  the  time  that  the  performance  of  a  comedy  was  first 
spoken  of,  everything  here  has  been  in  the  most  complete 
disorder.  All  the  drawers  are  opened,  all  the  wardrobes 
emptied;  it  is  genuine  pillage.  Tables,  easy-chairs,  consoles, 
everything  is  littered,  and  a  person  does  not  know  where  to 
set  his  foot.  Trailing  about  the  house  are  prodigious  quantities 
of  dresses,  mantelets,  veils,  petticoats,  cloaks,  caps,  and  hats; 
and  when  you  think  that  all  these  are  to  be  arranged  on  the 
bodies  of  seven  or  eight  persons,  you  involuntarily  think  of 
those  mountebanks  at  the  fair  who  wear  eight  or  ten  coats  one 
over  another,  and  you  find  it  impossible  to  conceive  that  the 
whole  of  this  heap  will  only  furnish  one  costume  for  each. 

"  The  servants  are  constantly  coming  and  going ;  there  are 
always  two  or  three  on  the  road  from  the  mansion  to  the 
town,  and  if  this  continues  all  the  horses  will  become 
broken-winded. 

"  A  theatrical  manager  has  no  time  to  be  melancholy,  and  I 
have  seldom  been  so  for  some  time  past.  I  am  so  deafened 
and  overwhelmed  that  I  am  beginning  to  lose  all  understanding 
of  the  piece.  As  I  support  the  character  of  impresario  as  well 
as  that  of  Orlando,  my  task  is  a  twofold  one.  When  any  diffi- 
culty arises  recourse  is  had  to  me,  and  as  my  decisions  are  not 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  245 

always  listened  to  as  oracles,  they  degenerate  into  interminable 
discussions. 

"  If  what  is  called  living  is  to  be  always  on  one's  legs,  to  be 
equal  to  twenty  persons,  to  go  up  and  down  stairs  and  not  to 
think  for  a  minute  during  the  day,  I  have  never  lived  so  much 
as  during  this  week.  Nevertheless,  I  have  a  smaller  share  in 
this  animation  than  might  be  believed.  The  agitation  is  very 
shallow,  and  the  stagnant,  unflowing  water  might  be  found  a 
few  fathoms  below ;  life  does  not  penetrate  me  so  readily  as 
that,  and  my  vitality  is  even  the  smallest  when  I  seem  to  be 
working  and  engaging  in  what  is  going  on.  Action  dulls  and 
fatigues  me  to  an  extent  which  is  inconceivable ;  when  I  am 
not  employed  actively,  I  think  or  at  least  dream,  and  this  is  a 
sort  of  existence,  but  I  lose  it  as  soon  as  I  emerge  from  my 
porcelain-image  repose. 

"  Up  to  the  present  I  have  done  nothing,  and  I  do  not  know 
whether  I  shall  ever  do  anything.  I  cannot  check  my  brain, 
which  is  all  the  difference  between  a  man  of  talent  and  a  man 
of  genius ;  it  is  an  endless  boiling,  wave  urging  wave ;  I  can- 
not master  this  species  of  internal  jet  which  rises  from  my 
heart  to  my  head,  and,  for  want  of  outlets,  drowns  all  my 
thoughts.  I  can  produce  nothing,  owing  not  to  sterility,  but  to 
superabundance ;  my  ideas  spring  up  so  thick-set  and  close 
that  they  are  stifled  and  cannot  ripen.  Never  will  execution, 
however  rapid  and  impetuous  it  may  be,  attain  to  such  velocity. 
When  I  write  a  phrase,  the  thought  which  it  represents  is 
already  as  far  distant  from  me  as  though  a  century  had  elapsed 
instead  of  a  second,  and  it  often  happens  that  in  spite  of  myself 
I  mingle  with  it  something  of  the  thought  which  has  taken  its 
place  in  my  head. 

"  This  is  why  I  cannot  live,  whether  as  a  poet  or  as  a  lover. 
I  can  only  give  out  the  ideas  which  have  left  me ;  I  have  women 
only  when  I  have  forgotten  them,  and  am  loving  others; — 
a  man,  how  can  I  bring  forth  my  wish  to  the  light  since,  hasten 
as  I  may,  I  lose  the  consciousness  of  what  I  do,  and  act  only 
in  accordance  with  a  feeble  reminiscence  ? 

"  To  come  upon  a  thought  in  a  vein  of  your  brain,  to  take  it 


246  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

out  rude  at  first  like  a  block  of  marble  as  it  is  got  from  the 
quarry,  to  set  it  before  you  and,  with  a  chisel  in  one  hand  and 
a  hammer  in  the  other,  to  knock,  cut,  and  scrape  from  morning 
till  evening,  and  then  carry  off  at  night  a  pinch  of  dust  to 
throw  upon  your  writing — that  is  what  I  shall  never  be  able 
to  do. 

"  In  idea  I  can  separate  the  slender  form  from  the  coarse 
block  very  well,  and  have  a  very  clear  vision  of  it ;  but  there 
are  so  many  angles  to  knock  away,  so  many  splinters  to  make 
fly,  so  many  strokes  of  rasp  and  hammer  to  be  given  in  order 
to  come  near  to  the  shape  and  lay  hold  on  the  just  sinuosity  of 
the  contour,  that  my  hands  become  blistered,  and  I  let  my 
chisel  fall  to  the  ground. 

"  If  I  persevere,  the  fatigue  reaches  such  a  degree  of  intensity 
that  my  inmost  sight  is  totally  darkened,  and  I  can  no  longer 
distinguish  through  the  cloud  of  marble  the  fair  divinity  which 
is  concealed  within  its  thickness.  Then  I  pursue  her  at  ran- 
dom and  in  groping  fashion ;  I  bite  too  deeply  into  one  place, 
and  do  not  go  far  enough  into  another ;  I  take  away  what 
ought  to  have  been  a  leg  or  an  arm,  and  leave  a  compact  mass 
where  there  ought  to  have  been  a  void  ;  instead  of  a  goddess  I 
make  a  grotesque,  and  sometimes  even  less,  and  the  magnifi- 
cent block  drawn  at  so  great  expense  and  with  so  much  toil 
from  the  entrails  of  the  earth,  hammered,  cut,  and  hollowed 
out  in  all  directions,  looks  more  as  if  it  had  been  gnawed  and 
perforated  by  polyps  to  make  a  hive  than  fashioned  by  a 
statuary  after  a  settled  design. 

"  How  dost  thou  contrive,  Michael  Angelo,  to  cut  the  marble 
in  slices  as  a  child  carves  a  chestnut?  of  what  steel  were 
thine  unconquered  chisels  formed  ?  and  what  sturdy  sides  sus- 
tained you,  all  ye  fertile  artists  and  workers,  whom  no  matter 
can  resist,  and  who  can  cause  your  dream  to  flow  entire  into 
colour  and  bronze  ? 

"  It  is  in  a  fashion  an  innocent  and  permissible  vanity,  after 
the  cruel  things  that  I  have  just  told  you  of  myself,  and  you 
will  not  be  one  to  blame  me  for  it,  O  Silvio  ! — but,  though  the 
universe  be  destined  to  know  nothing  of  it,  and  my  name  be 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  247 

beforehand  devoted  to  oblivion,  I  am  a  poet  and  a  painter !  I 
have  had  as  beautiful  ideas  as  any  poet  in  the  world ;  I  have 
created  types  as  pure  and  as  divine  as  those  that  are  most 
admired  in  the  masters.  I  see  them  there  before  me  as  clear 
and  as  distinct  as  though  they  were  really  depicted,  and  were  I 
able  to  open  up  a  hole  in  my  head,  and  place  a  glass  in  it  to 
be  looked  through,  there  would  be  the  most  marvellous  picture 
gallery  that  was  ever  seen.  No  earthly  king  can  boast  the 
possession  of  such  a  one.  There  are  Rubenses  as  flaming  and 
bright  as  the  purest  at  Antwerp ;  my  Raphaels  are  in  the  best 
state  of  preservation,  and  his  Madonnas  have  no  more  gracious 
smiles ;  Buonarotti  cannot  contort  a  muscle  in  bolder  and  more 
terrible  fashion  ;  the  sun  of  Venice  shines  upon  this  canvas  as 
though  it  were  signed  '  Paulus  Cagliari ; '  the  shadows  of  Rem- 
brandt himself  are  heaped  in  the  background  of  that  frame 
where  in  the  distance  there  trembles  a  pale  star  of  light ;  the 
pictures  wrought  in  the  manner  peculiar  to  myself  would 
assuredly  be  scorned  by  none. 

"  I  am  quite  aware  that  it  looks  strange  for  me  to  say  this, 
and  that  I  shall  appear  giddy  with  the  coarse  intoxication  of  the 
most  foolish  pride  ;  but  it  is  so,  and  nothing  will  shake  my  con- 
viction of  it.  No  one  doubtless  will  share  it ;  what  then  ? 
Every  one  is  born  marked  with  a  black  or  a  white  seal.  Mine 
apparently  is  black. 

"  Sometimes,  even,  I  have  difficulty  in  covering  up  my 
thought  sufficiently  in  this  respect ;  it  often  happens  that  I  speak 
too  familiarly  of  these  lofty  geniuses  whose  footsteps  should  be 
adored,  and  whose  statues  should  be  contemplated  from  afar 
and  on  the  knees.  Once  I  forgot  myself  so  far  as  to  say  '  We.' 
Happily  it  was  before  a  person  who  did  not  notice  it,  else  I 
should  infallibly  have  been  taken  for  the  most  enormous 
coxcomb  that  ever  lived. 

"  I  am  a  poet  and  a  painter,  Silvio  ;  am  I  not  ? 

"  It  is  a  mistake  to  believe  that  all  those  who  have  passed  for 
having  genius  were  really  greater  men  than  others.  It  is  un- 
known how  much  was  contributed  to  Raphael's  reputation  by 
the  pupils  and  obscure  painters  whom  he  employed  in  his 


248  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

works  ;  he  gave  his  signature  to  the  soul  and  talents  of  many — 
that  is  all. 

"  A  great  painter  or  a  great  writer  occupies  and  fills  by  him- 
self a  whole  century  ;  his  only  care  is  to  invade  all  styles  at  once, 
so  that  if  a  rival  should  start  up  he  may  accuse  him  at  the  very 
outset  of  plagiarism  and  check  him  at  the  first  step  in  his 
career.  These  are  well-known  tactics,  and  though  not  new, 
succeed  none  the  less  every  day. 

"  It  may  happen  that  a  man  who  is  already  celebrated  has 
precisely  the  same  sort  of  talent  that  you  would  have  had. 
Under  penalty  of  being  thought  to  copy  him,  you  are  obliged  to 
turn  aside  your  natural  inspiration  and  cause  it  to  take  a  diffe- 
rent direction.  You  were  born  to  blow  full-mouthed  on  the 
heroic  clarion  or  to  evoke  the  wan  phantoms  of  times  that  are 
no  more,  and  you  are  obliged  to  play  your  fingers  on  the  seven- 
holed  flute  or  to  make  knots  on  a  sofa  in  the  recesses  of  some 
boudoir,  simply  because  your  father  did  not  take  the  trouble 
to  cast  you  in  a  mould  eight  or  ten  years  sooner,  and  the  world 
does  not  understand  that  two  men  may  cultivate  the  same  field. 

"  It  is  in  this  way  that  many  noble  intellects  have  been 
forced  to  take  wittingly  a  path  which  is  not  theirs,  and  to  keep 
for  ever  along  the  borders  of  their  own  domain  from  which  they 
have  been  banished,  happy  still  to  cast  a  glance  by  stealth  over 
the  hedge,  and  to  see  on  the  other  side  blooming  in  the 
sun  the  beautiful  variegated  flowers  which  they  possess  as 
seeds  but  cannot  sow  for  lack  of  soil. 

"  As  regards  myself,  I  do  not  know  whether, — apart  from  the 
greater  or  less  opportuneness  of  circumstances,  the  greater  or 
less  amount  of  air  and  sun,  the  door  which  has  remained  closed 
and  which  ought  to  have  been  opened,  the  meeting  lost,  the 
somebody  whom  I  ought  to  have  known  and  whom  I  have  not 
known, — I  should  have  ever  attained  to  anything. 

"  I  have  not  the  necessary  degree  of  stupidity  to  become 
what  is  absolutely  called  a  genius,  nor  the  enormous  obstinacy 
which  is  afterwards  deified  under  the  fine  name  of  '  will,'  when 
the  great  man  has  arrived  at  the  radiant  mountain-top,  and  which 
is  indispensable  for  reaching  the  latter ;  I  am  too  well  acquainted 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  24-) 

with  the  hollowness  of  all  things  and  the  rottenness  that  is  in 
them,  to  cling  for  very  long  to  any  one  of  them  and  pursue  it 
eagerly  and  solely  through  thick  and  thin. 

"  Men  of  genius  are  very  narrow-minded,  and  it  is  on  this 
account  that  they  are  men  of  genius.  The  want  of  intelligence  pre- 
vents them  from  perceiving  the  obstacles  which  separate  them 
from  the  object  which  they  desire  to  reach;  they  go,  and  in  two  or 
three  strides  devour  the  intermediate  spaces.  As  their  minds 
are  obstinately  closed  to  certain  courses,  and  they  notice  only 
such  things  as  are  the  most  immediately  connected  with  their 
projects,  they  make  a  much  smaller  outlay  of  thought  and 
action.  Nothing  distracts  them,  nothing  turns  them  aside,  they 
act  rather  by  instinct  than  otherwise,  and  many  when  taken  out 
of  their  special  groove  are  mere  ciphers  in  a  way  that  it  is  diffi- 
cult to  understand. 

"  The  making  of  good  verses  is  assuredly  a  rare  and  charming 
gift ;  few  people  take  more  pleasure  than  I  do  in  matters  of 
poetry ;  but  yet  I  cannot  limit  and  circumscribe  my  life  within 
the  twelve  feet  of  an  Alexandrine ;  there  are  a  thousand  things 
which  disquiet  me  as  much  as  a  hemistich.  It  is  not  the  condi- 
tion of  society  and  the  reforms  that  should  be  made ;  1  care 
little  enough  whether  the  peasants  know  how  to  read  or  not. 
and  whether  men  eat  bread  or  browse  on  grass;  but  a  huncued 
thousand  visions  pass  through  my  head  in  an  hour  which  have 
not  the  least  connection  with  caesura  or  rhyme,  aiid  it  is  thit 
which  causes  me  to  execute  so  little,  although  I  have  more  ideas 
than  certain  poets  who  might  be  burnt  with  their  own  works. 

"  I  worship  beauty  and  feel  it ;  I  can  express  it  as  well  as  tht 
most  amorous  statuaries  can  comprehend  it,  and  yet  I  sculpture 
nothing.  The  ugliness  and  imperfection  of  the  rough  sketch 
revolt  me ;  I  cannot  wait  until,  by  dint  of  polishing  and  re- 
polishing,  the  work  finally  succeeds ;  if  I  could  make  up  my 
mind  to  leave  certain  things  in  my  work  alone,  whether  in  verse 
or  in  painting,  I  might  perhaps  in  the  end  produce  a  poem  or  a 
picture  that  would  make  me  famous,  and  those  who  love  me  (if 
there  is  anyone  in  the  world  who  takes  the  trouble  to  do  so) 
would  not  be  obliged  to  believe  in  me  on  trust,  and  would  have 


25J  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

a  triumphant  reply  to  the  sardonic  sneerings  of  the  detractors  of 
that  great  but  unknown  genius — myself. 

"  I  see  many  men  who  will  take  palette  and  pencils  and  cover 
their  canvas  without  any  great  anxiety  concerning  what  caprice 
is  producing  at  the  extremity  of  their  brush,  and  others  who  will 
write  a  hundred  verses  one  after  another  without  making  an 
erasure  or  once  raising  their  eyes  to  the  ceiling.  I  always 
admire  themselves,  even  if  I  sometimes  fail  to  admire  their  pro- 
ductions ;  from  my  heart  I  envy  the  charming  intrepidity  and 
happy  blindness  which  prevent  them  from  seeing  even  their 
most  palpable  faults.  As  soon  as  I  have  drawn  anything  wrong 
I  see  it  at  once,  and  am  pre-occupied  with  it  beyond  measure  ; 
and  as  [  am  far  more  accomplished  in  theory  than  in  practice, 
it  very  often  happens  that  I  am  unable  to  correct  a  mistake  of 
which  I  am  conscious.  In  that  event  I  turn  the  canvas  with  its 
face  to  the  wall  and  never  go  back  to  it  again. 

"  The  idea  of  perfection  is  so  present  with  me,  that  I  am 
instantly  seized  with  distaste  for  my  work  and  prevented  from 
carrying  it  on. 

"  Ah  !  when  I  compare  its  ugly  pout  on  canvas  or  paper  with 
the  soft  smiles  of  my  thought,  when  I  see  a  frightful  bat 
passing  in  place  of  the  beautiful  dream  that  spread  its  long  wings 
of  light  upon  the  bosom  of  my  nights,  when  I  see  a  thistle 
springing  up  from  the  idea  of  a  rose,  and  hear  an  ass's  bray 
where  I  looked  for  the  sweetest  melodies  of  the  nightingale,  I 
am  so  horribly  disappointed,  so  angry  with  myself,  so  furious  at 
my  own  impotence  that  I  resolve  never  again  to  write  or  speak 
a  single  word  of  my  life  rather  than  thus  commit  crimes  of  high 
treason  against  my  thoughts. 

"  I  cannot  even  succeed  in  writing  such  a  letter  as  I  should 
wish.  I  often  say  something  quite  different ;  some  portions  are 
excessively  developed,  others  dwindle  away  so  as  to  become 
imperceptible,  while  frequently  the  idea  which  I  intended  to 
express  is  absent,  or  present  only  in  a  postscript. 

"When  commencing  to  write  to  you  I  had  certainly  no 
intention  of  telling  you  one-half  of  what  I  have  said.  I  was 
merely  going  to  inform  you  that  we  were  about  to  act  a  play  ; 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIJN.  251 

but  a  word  leads  to  a  phrase ;  parentheses  are  big  with  other 
little  parentheses  which  again  contain  others  ready  to  be 
brought  forth.  There  is  no  reason  why  such  writing  should 
come  to  an  end,  and  should  not  extend  to  two  hundred  folio 
volumes, — which  would  assuredly  be  too  much. 

"  As  soon  as  I  take  up  my  pen  a  buzzing  and  a  rustling  of 
wings  begin  in  my  brain  as  though  multitudes  of  cockchafers 
were  set  free  within  it.  There  is  a  knocking  against  the  sides 
of  my  skull,  a  turning,  ascending  and  descending  with  horrible 
noise  ;  it  is  my  thoughts  which  are  fain  to  fly  away,  and  are 
seeking  for  an  outlet  ;  they  all  endeavour  to  come  forth  at 
once  ;  more  than  one  breaks  its  legs  and  tears  the  crape  of  its 
wing  in  the  attempt :  sometimes  the  door  is  so  blocked  up 
that  not  one  can  cross  the  threshold  and  reach  the  paper. 

"Such  is  my  nature.  Not  an  excellent  one  doubtless,  but 
what  can  I  do  ?  The  fault  rests  with  the  gods  and  not  with 
me,  poor  helpless  devil  that  I  am.  I  have  no  need  to  entreat 
your  indulgence,  my  dear  Silvio  ;  I  have  it  beforehand,  and 
you  are  so  kind  as  to  read  my  illegible  scrawlings,  my  headless 
and  tailless  dreamings,  through  to  the  end.  However  un- 
connected and  absurd  they  may  be  they  have  always  interest 
for  you  because  they  come  from  me,  and  anything  that  is 
myself,  even  if  it  be  not  good,  is  not  altogether  without  value 
in  your  eyes. 

"  I  may  let  you  see  what  is  most  revolting  to  the  generality 
of  men — sincere  pride.  But  a  truce  for  a  while  to  all  these 
fine  things,  and  since  I  am  writing  to  you  about  the  piece  that 
we  are  to  perform,  let  us  return  to  it  and  say  something 
about  it. 

"The  rehearsal  took  place  to-day.  I  was  never  so  confused 
in  my  life,  not  owing  to  the  embarassment  inseparable  from 
reciting  anything  before  so  many  people,  but  from  another 
cause.  We  were  in  costume  and  ready  to  begin ;  The'odore 
alone  had  not  yet  arrived.  A  message  was  sent  to  his  room  to 
know  what  was  keeping  him ;  he  replied  that  he  was  just  ready 
and  was  coming  down. 

'  He  came  in  fact.     I  heard  his  step  in  the  corridor  long 


252  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

before  he  appeared,  and  yet  no  one  in  the  world  has  a  lighter 
step  than  Theodore ;  but  the  sympathy  which  I  feel  with  him  is 
so  powerful  that  I  can  in  a  measure  divine  his  movements 
through  the  walls,  and,  when  I  knew  that  he  was  abouf  to  lay 
his  hand  on  the  handle  of  the  door,  I  was  seized  with  a  kind  of 
trembling,  and  my  heart  beat  with  horrible  violence.  It  seemed 
to  me  that  something  of  importance  in  my  life  was  about  to  be 
decided,  and  that  I  had  reached  a  solemn  and  long-expected 
moment. 

"  The  door  opened  slowly  and  closed  in  the  same  way. 

"There  was  a  general  cry  of  admiration.  The  men 
applauded,  and  the  women  grew  scarlet.  Rosette  alone  became 
extremely  pale  and  leaned  against  the  wall,  as  though  a  sudden 
revelation  were  passing  through  her  brain.  She  made  in  a 
contrary  direction,  the  same  movement  as  I  did.  I  always 
suspected  her  of  loving  Theodore. 

"  No  doubt  she  at  that  moment  believed  as  I  did  that  the 
pretended  Rosalind  was  really  nothing  less  than  a  young  and 
beautiful  woman,  and  the  frail  card-castle  of  her  hope  all  at  once 
gave  way,  while  mine  rose  upon  its  ruins  ;  at  least  this  is  what 
I  thought :  I  may,  perhaps,  be  mistaken,  for  I  was  scarcely  in 
a  condition  to  make  accurate  observations. 

"  There  were  three  or  four  pretty  women  present,  without 
counting  Rosette ;  they  appeared  to  be  revoltingly  ugly. 
By  the  side  of  this  sun  the  star  of  their  beauty  was  suddenly 
eclipsed,  and  everyone  was  asking  how  it  had  been  possible  to 
think  them  even  passable.  Men  who  previously  would  have 
esteemed  themselves  most  fortunate  to  have  them  as  mistresses, 
would  scarcely  have  been  willing  to  take  them  as  servants. 

"  The  image  which,  till  then,  had  shown  itself  only  feebly 
and  with  vague  outlines,  the  phantom  that  I  had  worshipped 
and  vainly  pursued  was  there  before  my  eyes,  living,  palpable, 
no  longer  in  twilight  and  vapour,  but  bathed  in  floods  of  white 
light ;  not  in  a  vain  disguise,  but  in  its  real  costume ;  no  longer 
in  the  derisive  form  of  a  young  man,  but  with  the  features  of  the 
most  charming  woman. 

"  I  experienced  a  sensation  of  enormous  comfort,  as  though 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN  253 

a  mountain  or  two  had  been  lifted  off  my  breast  I  felt  my 
self-horror  vanishing,  and  was  released  from  the  pain  of  regard- 
ing myself  as  a  monster.  I  came  again  to  conceive  quite  a 
pastoral  opinion  of  myself,  and  all  the  violets  of  spring  bloomed 
once  more  in  my  heart. 

"  He,  or  rather  she  (for  I  wish  henceforth  to  forget  that  I  had 
the  stupidity  to  take  her  for  a  man)  remained  motionless  for  a 
minute  on  the  threshold  of  the  room,  as  though  to  give  the 
gathering  time  to  utter  its  first  exclamation.  A  bright  ray  lit 
her  up  from  head  to  foot,  and  on  the  dark  back-ground  of  the 
corridor  which  receded  far  into  the  distance  behind,  the  carved 
door  case  serving  her  as  a  frame,  she  shone  as  though  the  light 
had  emanated  from  her  instead  of  being  merely  reflected,  and 
she  might  rather  have  been  taken  for  a  marvellous  production  of 
the  brush  than  for  a  human  creature  made  of  flesh  and  bone. 

"  Her  long  brown  hair,  intermingled  with  strings  of  great 
pearls,  fell  in  natural  ringlets  along  her  lovely  cheeks  !  her 
shoulders  and  breast  were  uncovered,  and  I  had  never  seen 
any  in  the  world  so  beautiful ;  the  sublimest  marble  cannot 
come  near  to  such  exquisite  perfection.  To  see  the  life  coursing 
beneath  the  clouded  transparency  !  how  white  and  yet  so 
ruddy  the  flesh  !  how  happily  the  harmonious  golden  tints 
effect  the  transition  from  skin  to  hair  !  what  entrancing  poems 
in  the  soft  undulations  of  these  outlines,  more  supple  and  velvety 
than  the  neck  of  a  swan !  Were  there  words  to  express  what 
I  feel  I  would  give  you  a  description  fifty  pages  long ;  but 
languages  were  made  by  some  scoundrels  or  other  who  had  never 
gazed  attentively  on  a  woman's  back  or  bosom,  and  we  do 
not  possess  half  of  the  most  indispensable  terms. 

"  I  decidedly  believe  that  I  must  become  a  sculptor,  for  to 
see  such  beauty  and  to  be  unable  to  express  it  in  one  way  or 
another  is  sufficient  to  make  a  man  furious  and  mad.  I  have 
made  twenty  sonnets  to  these  shoulders  but  that  is  not  enough  : 
I  should  like  something  which  I  could  touch  with  my  finger 
and  which  would  be  exactly  like ;  verses  express  only  the  phan- 
tom of  beauty  and  not  beauty  itself.  The  painter  attains  to  a 
more  accurate  semblance,  but  it  is  only  a  semblance.  Sculpture 


254  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

has  all  the  reality  that  anything  completely  false  can  possess ; 
it  has  a  multiple  aspect,  casts  a  shadow  and  may  be  touched. 
Your  sculptured  differs  from  your  veritable  mistress  only  in  this 
that  she  is  a  little  harder  and  does  not  speak — two  very  trifling 
defects ! 

"  Her  dress  was  made  of  a  stuff  of  varying  colour,  azure  in 
the  light,  and  golden  in  the  shade  ;  a  well  and  close  fitting  boot 
was  on  a  foot  which,  apart  from  this,  was  excessively  small,  and 
stockings  of  scarlet  silk  wound  amorously  round  a  most  shapely 
and  enticing  leg ;  her  arms  which  were  bare  to  the  elbows  and 
emerged  from  a  cluster  of  lace,  were  round,  plump,  and  white,  as 
splendid  as  polished  silver,  and  with  unimaginably  delicate  line- 
aments ;  her  hands,  which  were  laden  with  jewellery,  were  softly 
swaying  a  large  fan  of  singularly  variegated  feathers,  which 
looked  like  a  little  pocket  rainbow. 

"  She  advanced  into  the  room,  her  cheeks  slightly  kindled  with 
a  red  which  was  not  paint,  and  everyone  was  in  raptures,  crying 
out  and  asking  whether  it  was  really  possible  that  it  could  be  he, 
Theodore  de  Sdrannes,  the  daring  rider,  the  demon  duellist, 
the  determined  hunter,  and  whether  he  was  perfectly  sure  that 
it  was  not  his  twin  sister. 

"  But  you  would  think  that  he  had  never  worn  any  other 
costume  in  his  life  !  His  movements  are  not  in  the  least  em- 
barrassed, he  walks  very  well,  and  does  not  get  entangled  in  his 
train  ;  he  ogles  and  flirts  with  his  fan  in  a  ravishing  mannei ! 
and  his  waist  is  so  slender !  you  might  enclose  it  with  your 
fingers !  It  is  extraordinary,  inconceivable  !  The  illusion  .is  as 
complete  as  it  can  be  :  you  would  almost  think  that  he  had  a 
bosom,  his  breast  is  so  devoloped  and  well  filled,  and  then 
not  a  hair  on  his  face,  not  a  single  one ;  and  his  voice  so  sweet ! 
Oh  !  the  beautiful  Rosalind  !  and  who  would  not  wish  to  be  her 
Orlando  ? 

"  Yes,  who  would  not  wish  to  be  the  Orlando  of  such  a 
Rosalind,  even  at  the  cost  of  the  torments  I  have  suffered  ? 
To  love  as  I  did  with  a  monstrous  love  which  could  not  be 
confessed  and  yet  which  could  not  be  uprooted  from  your  heart ; 
to  be  condemned  to  keep  the  profoundest  silence,  and  to  shrink 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  255 

from  indulging  in  what  the  most  discreet  and  respectful  lover 
might  fearlessly  say  to  the  most  prudish  and  severe  of  women  f 
to  feel  yourself  devoured  by  insane  longings  without  excuse  even 
in  the  eyes  of  the  most  abandoned  libertines  ;  what  are  ordinary 
passions  to  such  a  one  as  that,  a  passion  ashamed  of  itself  and 
hopeless,  whose  improbable  success  would  be  a  crime  and  would 
cause  you  to  die  of  shame?  To  be  reduced  to  wish  for  failure, 
to  dread  favourable  chances  and  opportunities,  and  to  avoid 
them  as  another  would  seek  them — such  was  my  fate. 

"  The  deepest  discouragement  had  taken  possession  of  me  ; 
I  looked  upon  myself  with  horror,  mingled  with  surprise  and 
curiosity.  What  was  most  revolting  to  me  was  the  thought  that 
I  had  never  loved  before,  and  that  this  was  my  first  effervescence 
of  youth,  the  first  Easter-daisy  in  the  spring-tide  of  my  love. 

"This  monstrosity  took  the  place  with  me  of  the  fresh 
and  chaste  illusions  of  early  years;  my  fondly  cherished  dreams 
of  tenderness  at  evening  on  the  skirts  of  the  woods,  down  the 
little  reddening  paths,  or  along  the  white  marble  terraces,  near 
the  sheet  of  water  in  the  park,  were  then  to  be  metamorphosed  into 
this  perfidious  sphinx  with  doubtful  smile  and  ambiguous  voice, 
and  before  which  I  stood  without  venturing  to  undertake  the  solu- 
tion of  the  enigma!  To  interpret  it  wrongly  would  have  caused  my 
death ;  for,  alas  !  it  is  the  only  tie  which  unites  me  to  the  world ; 
when  it  is  broken,  all  will  be  over.  Take  from  me  this  spark 
and  I  shall  be  more  gloomy  and  inanimate  than  the  band-swathed 
mummy  of  the  most  ancient  Pharaoh. 

On  the  occasions  when  I  felt  myself  most  forcibly  drawn 
towards  Theodore,  I  would  throw  myself  back  with  dismay  into 
the  arms  of  Rosette,  although  she  was  infinitely  displeasing  to 
me ;  I  tried  to  interpose  her  like  a  barrier  and  shield  between 
myself  and  him,  and  I  felt  a  secret  satisfaction  when  lying  beside 
her  in  thinking  that  she  had  been  proved  to  be  a  woman,  and 
that  although  I  had  ceased  to  love,  I  was  still  loved  by  het 
sufficiently  well  to  prevent  our  union  from  degenerating  into 
intrigue  and  debauch. 

"  Nevertheless,  at  the  bottom  of  my  heart,  I  felt  through  all 
this  a  kind  of  regret  at  being  thus  faithless  to  the  idea  of  my 


256  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

impossible  passion ;  I  felt  resentful  against  myself  for,  as  it  were, 
an  act  of  treason,  and,  though  I  well  knew  that  I  should  never 
possess  the  object  of  my  love,  I  was  discontented  with  myself, 
and  resumed  my  coldness  towards  Rosette. 

"  The  rehearsal  was  much  better  than  I  had  hoped  for ; 
Theodore  especially  proved  admirable ;  it  was  also  considered 
that  I  acted  uncommonly  well.  This,  however,  was  not  because 
I  possess  the  qualities  necessary  to  make  a  good  actor,  and  it 
would  be  a  great  mistake  to  suppose  me  capable  of  taking  other 
parts  in  the  same  fashion  •  but,  through  rather  a  singular  chance, 
the  words  which  I  had  to  utter  agreed  with  my  situation  so  well, 
that  they  seemed  to  me  to  have  been  invented  by  myself  rather 
than  learnt  by  heart  from  a  book.  Had  my  memory  failed  me 
at  certain  passages,  I  should  certainly  not  have  hesitated  for  a 
minute  before  supplying  the  void  with  an  improvised  phrase. 
Orlando  was  I,  at  least,  as  much  as  I  was  Orlando ;  it  would  be 
impossible  to  meet  with  a  more  wonderful  coincidence. 

"  In  the  wrestling  scene,  when  Thdodore  unfastened  the  chain 
from  his  neck  and  presented  it  to  me,  in  accordance  with  his 
part,  he  cast  upon  me  so  sweetly  languorous  and  promising  a 
look,  and  uttered  the  sentence : 

'  Gentleman, 

Wear  this  for  me,  one  out  of  suits  with  fortune 
That  could  give  more  but  that  her  hand  lacks  means," 

with  such  grace  and  nobility,  that  I  was  really  troubled  by  it 
and  could  scarcely  go  on  : 

'  What  passion  hangs  these  weights  upon  my  tongue  ? 
I  cannot  speak  to  her,  yet  she  urged  conference. 
O  poor  Orlando  ! ' 

"  In  the  third  act  Rosalind,  dressed  like  a  man  and  under  the 
name  of  Ganymede,  reappears  with  her  cousin,  Celia,  who  has 
changed  her  name  to  Aliena. 

"  This  made  a  disagreeable  impression  upon  me.  I  had 
already  become  so  well  accustomed  to  the  feminine  costume 
which  indulged  my  desires  with  some  hopes,  and  kept  me  in  a 
perfidious  but  seducing  error !  We  very  soon  come  to  look 
upon  our  wishes  as  realities  on  the  testimony  of  the  most  fleet- 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN  257 

ing  appearances,  and  I  became  quite  gloomy  when  The'odore 
reappeared  in  his  man's  dress,  more  gloomy  than  I  had  been 
before ;  for  joy  only  serves  to  make  us  feel  grief  more  keenly; 
the  sun  strives  only  to  give  us  a  better  understanding  of  the 
horror  of  darkness,  and  the  gaiety  of  white  is  only  intended  to 
give  relief  to  all  the  sadness  of  black. 

"  His  coat  was  the  most  gallant  and  coquettish  in  the  world, 
of  an  elegant  and  capricious  cut,  all  adorned  with  trimmings 
and  ribbons,  nearly  in  the  style  of  the  wits  of  the  court  of 
Louis  XIII ;  a  pointed  felt  hat  with  a  long  curled  feather 
shaded  the  ringlets  of  his  beautiful  hair,  and  the  lower  part  of 
his  travelling  cloak  svas  raised  by  a  long  damaskeened  sword. 

"Yet  he  was  dressed  in  such  a  way  as  to  give  one  a 
presentiment  that  these  manly  clothes  had  a  feminine  lining ;  a 
breadth  of  hip,  a  fullness  of  bosom,  and  a  sort  of  undulation 
never  seen  in  cloth  on  the  body  of  a  man,  left  but  slight  doubts 
respecting  the  person's  sex. 

"  He  had  a  half  deliberate,  half  timid  manner  which  was 
most  diverting,  and,  with  infinite  art,  he  assumed  as  em- 
barassed  an  appearance  in  a  costume  which  was  his  usual  one> 
as  he  had  seemed  to  be  at  his  ease  in  garments  which  were  not 
his  own. 

"  My  serenity  returned  to  some  extent,  and  I  persuaded 
myself  afresh  that  it  was  really  a  woman.  I  recovered  sufficient 
composure  to  play  my  part  in  a  fitting  manner. 

"  Do  you  know  this  piece  ?  Perhaps  not.  For  the  last 
fortnight  I  have  done  nothing  but  read  it  and  declaim  it,  I 
know  it  entirely  by  heart,  and  I  cannot  imagine  that  everybody 
is  not  as  conversant  with  its  knot  and  plot  as  I  am  myself.  I 
fall  commonly  enough  into  the  error  of  believing  that  when  I 
am  drunk  all  creation  is  fuddled  and  incapable,  and  if  I  knew 
Hebrew  I  would  to  a  certainty  ask  my  servant  in  Hebrew  for 
my  dressing-gown  and  slippers,  and  be  very  much  astonished 
that  he  did  not  understand  me.  You  will  read  it  if  you  wish  ; 
I  shall  assume  that  you  have  read  it  and  only  touch  upon  such 
passages  as  have  some  bearing  upon  my  situation. 

"  Rosalind,  when  walking  in  the  forest  with  her  cousin,  is 


258  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

greatly  astonished  to  find  thatinstead  of  blackberries  and  sloes 
the  bushes  bear  madrigals  in  her  praise :  strange  fruits  which 
fortunately  do  not  grow  on  brambles  as  a  rule ;  for  when  you 
are  thirsty  it  is  better  to  find  good  blackberries  on  the  branches 
than  bad  sonnets.  She  is  very  anxious  to  know  who  has 
spoiled  the  bark  of  the  young  trees  in  this  way  by  cutting  the 
letters  of  her  name  upon  it.  Celia,  who  has  already  en- 
countered Orlando,  tells  her,  after  many  entreaties,  that  the 
rhymer  is  none  other  than  the  young  man  who  vanquished  the 
Duke's  athlete  Charles,  in  the  wrestling  match. 

"Soon  Orlando  himself  appears,  and  Rosalind  enters  into 
conversation  with  him  by  asking  him  what  o'clock  it  is. 
Certes,  this  opening  is  simple  in  the  extreme ;  nothing  in  the 
world  could  be  more  homely.  But  be  not  afraid  :  from  this 
commonplace  and  vulgar  phrase  you  will  see  gathered  in  a 
harvest  of  unexpected  conceits,  full  of  flowers  and  whimsical 
comparisons  as  from  the  most  vigorous  and  best  manured  soil. 

"  After  some  lines  of  sparkling  dialogue,  whose  every  word, 
falling  on  the  phrase,  causes  millions  of  sportive  spangles  to  fly 
right  and  left  like  a  hammer  on  a  red-hot  iron  bar,  Rosalind 
asks  Orlando  whether  peradventure  he  may  know  the  man  who 
hangs  odes  on  hawthorns  and  elegies  on  brambles,  and  who 
seems  to  have  the  quotidian  of  love  upon  him,  an  ill  which  she 
is  quite  able  to  cure.  Orlando  confesses  that  it  is  he  that  is  so 
tormented  by  love,  and  asks  her  to  do  him  the  favour  of  show- 
ing him  a  remedy  for  this  sickness,  seeing  that  she  has  boasted 
of  having  several  infallible  ones  for  its  cure.  'You  in  love?' 
replies  Rosalind;  '  you  have  none  of  the  marks  whereby  a  lover 
may  be  known ;  you  have  neither  a  lean  cheek  nor  a  blue  and 
sunken  eye ;  your  hose  is  not  ungartered,  nor  your  sleeve 
unbuttoned,  and  your  shoe  is  most  gracefully  tied ;  if  you  are 
in  love  with  anyone  it  is  assuredly  with  yourself,  and  you  need 
not  my  remedies.' 

"  It  was  not  without  genuine  emotion  that  I  replied  textually 
as  follows  : 

" '  Fair  youth,  I  would  I  could  make  thee  believe  I 
love..' 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  259 

"  This  answer  so  unexpected  and  strange,  which  is  led  up  to 
by  nothing,  and  had  seemingly  been  written  expressly  for  me  as 
though  by  a  species  of  provision  on  the  part  of  the  poet,  greatly 
affected  me  as  I  uttered  it  standing  before  The'odore,  whose 
divine  lips  were  still  slightly  swelled  with  the  ironic  expression 
of  the  phrase  that  he  had  just  spoken,  while  his  eyes  smiled 
with  inexpressible  sweetness,  and  a  bright  ray  of  kindness 
gilded  all  the  loftiness  of  his  young  and  beautiful  countenance. 

"  '  Me  believe  it !  You  may  as  soon  make  her  that  you  love 
believe  it ;  which  I  warrant  she  is  apter  to  do,  than  to  confess 
she  does ;  that  is  one  of  the  points  in  the  which  women  still 
give  the  lie  to  their  consciences.  But,  in  good  sooth,  are  you 
he  that  hangs  these  fair  praises  of  Rosalind  on  the  trees,  and 
have  you  truly  need  of  a  remedy  for  your  madness  ? ' 

"  When  she  is  quite  satisfied  that  it  is  he,  Orlando,  and  none 
other,  who  has  rhymed  these  admirable  verses  going  on  so 
many  feet,  beautiful  Rosalind  consents  to  tell  him  her  recipe. 
Its  composition  was  as  follows : — She  pretended  to  be  the  beloved 
of  the  love-sick  suitor,  who  was  obliged  to  woo  her  as  though 
she  had  been  his  very  mistress,  and  to  cure  him  of  his  passion 
she  indulged  in  the  most  extravagant  caprices ;  would  now 
weep  and  then  smile  ;  one  day  entertain  him,  another  forswear 
him  ;  would  scratch  him  and  spit  in  his  face,  and  not  for  a 
single  moment  be  like  herself :  fantastical,  inconstant,  prudish, 
and  languishing,  she  was  all  these  in  turns  and  the  poor 
wretch  had  to  endure  or  execute  all  the  unruly  fancies 
engendered  by  weariness,  vapours,  and  the  blues  in  the  hollow 
head  of  a  frivolous  woman.  A  goblin,  an  ape,  and  an  attorney 
all  in  one  had  not  devised  more  maliciousness.  This 
miraculous  treatment  had  not  failed  to  produce  its  effect ;  the 
sick  one  was  driven  from  his  mad  humour  of  love  into  a  living 
humour  of  madness — which  was  to  forswear  the  full  stream  of 
the  world  and  to  live  in  a  nook  truly  monastic  ;  a  most  satis- 
factory result,  and  one,  too,  which  might  easily  be  expected. 

"  Orlando,  as  may  well  be  believed,  is  not  very  anxious  to 
recover  his  health  by  such  means ;  but  Rosalind  insists  and  is 
desirous  of  undertaking  the  cure.  She  uttered  the  sentence  : 


260  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

'  I  would  cure  you  if  you  would  but  call  me  Rosalind,  and  come 
every  day  to  my  cote  and  woo  me,'  with  so  marked  and  visible 
an  intention,  and  casting  on  me  so  strange  a  look,  that  I  found 
it  impossible  not  to  give  it  a  wider  meaning  than  belongs  to  the 
words,  nor  see  in  it  an  indirect  admonition  to  declare  my  true 
feelings.  And  when  Orlando  replies :  '  With  all  my  heart, 
good  youth,'  it  was  in  a  still  more  significant  manner,  and  with 
a  sort  of  spite  at  failing  to  make  herself  understood,  that  she 
uttered  the  reply  :  '  Nay,  you  must  call  me  Rosalind.' 

"  Perhaps  I  was  mistaken  and  thought  I  saw  what  had  really 
no  existence,  but  it  seemed  to  me  that  Thdodore,  had  perceived 
my  love,  though  I  had  most  certainly  never  spoken  a  word  of 
it  to  him,  and  that  he  was  alluding,  through  the  veil  of  these 
borrowed  expressions,  beaneath  this  theatrical  mask  and  in  these 
hermaphrodite  words  to  his  real  sex  and  to  our  mutual  situation. 
It  is  quite  impossible  that  so  spiritual  and  refined  a  woman  as  she 
is  should  not  have  distinguished,  from  the  very  beginning,  what 
was  passing  in  my  soul.  In  the  absence  of  my  words,  my  eyes 
and  troubled  air  spoke  plainly  enough,  and  the  veil  of  ardent 
friendship  which  I  had  cast  over  my  love,  was  not  so  impene- 
trable that  it  could  not  be  easily  pierced  by  an  attentive  and 
interested  observer.  The  most  innocent  and  inexperienced 
girl  would  not  have  been  checked  by  it  for  a  moment. 

"Some  important  reason,  and  one  that  I  cannot  discover,  doubt- 
less compels  the  fair  one  to  this  cursed  disguise,  which  has  been 
the  cause  of  all  my  torments  and  was  nearly  making  a  strange 
lover  of  me  :  but  for  this,  everything  would  have  gone  evenly 
and  easily  like  a  carriage  with  well  greased  wheels  on  a  level  and 
finely  sanded  road;  I  might  have  abandoned  myself  with  sweet 
security  to  the  most  amorously  vagrant  dreamings,  and  taken  in 
my  hands  the  little  white  silky  hand  of  my  divinity  without 
shuddering  with  horror,  or  shrinking  twenty  paces  back  as 
though  I  had  touched  a  red-hot  iron,  or  felt  the  claws  of 
Beelzebub  in  person. 

"  Instead  of  being  in  despair  and  as  agitated  as  a  real 
maniac,  of  doing  my  utmost  to  feel  remorse  and  of  grieving 
because  I  failed,  I  should  have  said  to  myself  every  morning, 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MACJriN.  261 

stretching  my  arms  with  a  sense  of  duty  done  and  conscience 
at  rest :  '  I  am  in  love,'  a  sentence  as  agreeable  to  say  to  your- 
self in  the  morning  with  your  head  on  a  soft  pillow,  and  warm 
bed-clothes  covering  you,  as  any  other  imaginable  sentence  of 
four  words,  —  always  excepting  this  one:  'I  have  money.' 

"  After  rising  I  should  have  placed  myself  before  my  glass, 
and  there,  looking  at  myself  with  a  sort  of  respect,  have  waxed 
tender,  as  I  combed  my  hair,  over  my  poetic  paleness,  resolving 
at  the  same  time  to  turn  it  to  good  account  and  duly  make  the 
most  of  it,  for  nothing  can  be  viler  than  to  make  love  with  a 
scarlet  phiz  ;  and  when  you  are  so  unfortunate  as  to  be  ruddy 
and  in  love,  circumstances  which  may  come  together,  I  am  of 
opinion  that  you  should  flour  your  physiognomy  daily  or 
renounce  refinement  and  stick  to  the  Margots  and  Toinons. 

"  I  should  then  have  breakfasted  with  compunction  and 
gravity  in  order  to  nourish  this  dear  body,  this  precious  box  of 
passion,  to  compose  sound,  amorous  chyle  and  quick,  hot  blood 
for  it  from  the  juice  of  meat  and  game,  and  keep  it  in  a  con- 
dition to  afford  pleasure  to  charitable  souls. 

"  Breakfast  finished,  and  while  picking  my  teeth,  I  should 
have  woven  a  few  heteroclite  rhymes  after  the  manner  of  a 
sonnet,  and  all  in  honour  of  my  mistress ;  I  should  have  found 
out  a  thousand  little  comparisons,  each  more  unusual  than 
another,  and  infinitely  gallant.  In  the  first  quatrain  there 
would  have  been  a  dance  of  suns,  and  in  the  second  a  minuet 
of  theological  virtues ;  the  two  tercets  would  not  have  been  of 
an  inferior  style ;  Helen  would  have  been  treated  like  an  inn- 
servant,  and  Paris  like  an  idiot ;  the  East  would  have  had 
nothing  to  be  envied  for  in  the  magnificence  of  metaphor  ;  the 
last  line,  especially,  would  have  been  particularly  admirable 
and  would  have  contained  at  least  two  conceits  in  a  syllable ; 
for  a  scorpion's  venom  is  in  its  tail,  and  the  merit  of  a  sonnet 
is  in  the  last  line. 

"The  sonnet  completed  and  well  and  duly  transcribed  on 
glazed  and  perfumed  paper,  I  should  have  left  the  house  a 
hundred  cubits  tall,  bending  my  head  lest  I  should  knock 
against  the  sky  and  be  caught  in  the  clouds  (a  wise  precaution), 


262  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

and  should  have  gone  and  recited  my  new  production  to  all 
my  friends  and  enemies,  then  to  infants  at  the  breast  of  their 
nurses,  then  to  the  horses  and  donkeys,  then  to  the  walls  and 
trees,  just  to  know  the  opinion  of  creation  respecting  the  last 
product  of  my  vein. 

"  In  social  circles  I  should  have  spoken  with  women  in  a 
doctoral  manner,  and  maintained  sentimental  theses  in  a  grave 
and  measured  tone  of  voice,  like  a  man  who  knows  much  more 
than  he  cares  to  say  concerning  the  subject  in  hand,  and  has 
not  acquired  his  knowledge  from  books ; — a  style  which  never 
fails  to  produce  a  prodigious  effect,  and  causes  all  the  women 
in  the  company  who  have  ceased  to  mention  their  age,  and  the 
few  little  girls  not  invited  to  dance  to  turn  up  the  whites  of 
their  eyes. 

"  I  might  have  led  the  happiest  life  in  the  world,  treading  on 
the  pug-dog's  tail  without  its  mistress  making  too  great  an 
outcry,  upsetting  tables  laden  with  china,  and  eating  the 
choicest  morsel  at  table  without  leaving  any  for  the  rest  of  the 
party.  All  this  would  have  been  excused  out  of  consideration 
for  the  well-known  absent-mindedness  of  lovers ;  and  as  they 
saw  me  swallowing  up  everything  with  a  wild  look,  everyone 
would  have  clasped  his  hands  and  said,  '  Poor  fellow  ! ' 

"  And  then  the  dreamy,  doleful  air,  the  dishevelled  hair,  the 
untidy  stockings,  the  slack  cravat,  the  great  hanging  arms  that 
I  should  have  had !  how  I  should  have  hastened  through  the 
avenues  in  the  park,  now  swiftly,  now  slowly,  after  the  fashion  of 
a  man  whose  reason  is  completely  gone !  How  I  should  have 
stared  at  the  moon  and  made  rings  in  the  water  with  profound 
tranquillity ! 

"  But  the  gods  have  ordained  it  otherwise. 

"  I  am  smitten  with  a  beauty  in  doublet  and  boots,  with  a 
proud  Bradamant  who  scorns  the  garments  of  her  sex,  and 
leaves  you  at  times  wavering  amid  the  most  disquieting  perplexi- 
ties ;  her  features  and  body  are  indeed  the  features  and  body  of 
a  woman,  but  her  mind  is  unquestionably  that  of  a  man. 

"  My  mistress  is  most  proficient  with  the  sword,  and  might 
teach  the  most  experienced  fencing  master's  assistant ;  she  has 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  263 

had  I  do  not  know  how  many  duels,  and  has  killed  or  wounded 
three  or  four  persons  ;  she  clears  ditches  ten  feet  wide  on  horse- 
back, and  hunts  like  an  old  country  squire — singular  qualities  for 
a  mistress  !  such  things  never  happen  except  with  me. 

"  I  laugh,  but  I  have  certainly  no  cause  for  doing  so,  for  I 
never  suffered  so  much,  and  the  last  two  months  seemed  to  me 
like  two  years  or  rather  two  centuries.  There  was  an  ebb  and 
flow  of  uncertainties  in  my  head  sufficient  to  stupefy  the 
strongest  brain  ;  I  was  so  violently  agitated  and  pulled  in  all 
directions,  I  had  such  furious  transports,  such  dull  atonies,  such 
extravagant  hopes  and  such  deep  despairs,  that  I  really  do  not 
know  how  it  was  that  I  did  not  die  from  the  pain  of  it.  This 
idea  so  occupied  and  possessed  me  that  I  was  astonished  that 
it  was  not  seen  clearly  through  my  body  like  a  candle  in  a 
lantern,  and  I  was  in  mortal  terror  lest  someone  should  chance 
to  discover  the  object  of  my  insane  love. 

"  However,  Rosette,  being  the  person  most  interested  in 
watching  the  movements  of  my  heart,  appeared  to  perceive 
nothing ;  I  believe  that  she  was  too  much  engaged  in  loving 
Theodore  to  pay  attention  to  my  cooling  towards  her ;  otherwise 
I  must  be  a  master  of  the  art  of  dissimulation,  and  I  am  not 
so  conceited  as  to  have  this  belief.  The'odore  himself  up  to 
that  day  never  showed  that  he  had  the  faintest  suspicion  of  the 
condition  of  my  soul,  and  always  spoke  to  me  in  a  familiar  and 
friendly  fashion,  as  a  well-bred  young  fellow  speaks  to  another 
of  his  own  age — nothing  more.  His  conversation  with  me 
used  to  turn  on  all  sorts  of  subjects,  arts,  poetry,  and  other 
similar  matters,  but  never  on  anything  of  an  intimate  and  exact 
nature  having  reference  to  himself  or  to  me. 

"  It  may  be  that  the  motives  compelling  him  to  this  disguise 
have  ceased  to  exist,  and  that  he  will  soon  resume  the  dress 
that  is  suitable  for  him.  This  I  do  not  know ;  the  fact  remains 
that  Rosalind  uttered  certain  words  with  peculiar  inflexions,  and 
in  a  very  marked  manner  emphasized  all  the  passages  in  her 
part  which  had  an  ambiguous  meaning  and  might  point  in  a 
particular  direction. 

"In  the  trysting  scene,  from  the  moment  when  she  reproaches 


264  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

Orlando  for  not  coming  two  hours  too  soon  as  would  befit  a 
genuine  lover  instead  of  two  hours  too  late,  until  the  sorrowful 
sigh  which,  fearful  at  the  extent  of  her  passion,  she  heaves  as 
she  throws  herself  into  Aliena's  arms  :  '  O  coz,  coz,  my  pretty 
little  coz,  that  thou  didst  know  how  many  fathoms  deep  I  am 
in  love  ! '  she  displayed  miraculous  talent.  It  was  an  irresistible 
blending  of  tenderness,  melancholy,  and  love;  there  was  a 
trembling  and  agitation  in  her  voice,  and  behind  the  laugh 
might  be  felt  the  most  violent  love  ready  to  burst  forth ;  add 
to  this  all  the  piquancy  and  singularity  of  the  transposition  and 
the  novelty  of  seeing  a  young  man  woo  a  mistress  whom  he 
takes  for  a  man,  and  who  has  all  the  appearance  of  one. 

"  Expressions  which  in  other  situations  would  have  appeared 
ordinary  and  common-place,  were  in  ours  thrown  into  peculiar 
relief,  and  all  the  small  change  of  amorous  comparisons  and 
protestations  in  vogue  on  the  stage  seemed  struck  with  quite  a 
new  stamp ;  besides,  had  the  thoughts,  instead  of  being  rare 
and  charming  as  they  are,  been  more  worn  than  a  judge's  robe 
or  the  crupper  of  a  hired  donkey,  the  style  in  which  they  were 
delivered  would  have  caused  them  to  be  apparently  character- 
ized by  the  most  marvellous  refinement  and  best  taste  in  the 
world. 

"  I  forgot  to  tell  you  that  Rosette,  after  declining  the  part  of 
Rosalind,  compliantly  undertook  the  secondary  part  of  Phoebe. 
Phoebe  is  a  shepherdess  in  the  forest  of  Arden,  loved  to  dis- 
traction by  the  shepherd  Silvius,  whom  she  cannot  endure,  and 
whom  she  overwhelms  with  consistent  harshness.  Phoebe  is  as 
cold  as  the  moon  whose  name  she  bears  ;  she  has  a  heart  of 
snow  which  is  not  to  be  melted  by  the  fire  of  the  most  burning 
sighs,  but  whose  icy  crust  constantly  thickens  and  hardens  like 
diamond  ;  but  scarcely  has  she  seen  Rosalind  in  the  dress  of 
the  handsome  page  Ganymede,  than  all  this  ice  dissolves  to 
tears,  and  the  diamond  becomes  softer  than  wax. 

"  The  haughty  Phoebe  who  laughed  at  love,  is  herself  in  love, 
and  now  suffers  the  torments  which  she  formerly  made  others 
endure.  Her  pride  is  humbled  so  far  as  to  make  every 
advance  •,  she  sends  poor  Silvius  to  Rosalind  with  an  ardent 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  265 

letter  containing  the  avowal  of  her  passion  in  most  humble  and 
supplicating  terms.  Rosalind,  touched  with  pity  for  Silvius, 
and  having,  moreover,  most  excellent  reasons  for  not  respond- 
ing to  Phoebe's  love,  subjects  her  to  the  harshest  treatment,  and 
mocks  her  with  unparalleled  cruelty  and  animosity.  Never- 
theless, Phoebe  prefers  these  outrages  to  the  most  delicate  and 
•mpassioned  madrigals  from  her  hapless  shepherd ;  she  follows 
the  handsome  stranger  everywhere,  and,  by  dint  of  her  impor- 
tunities, extracts  the  promise, — the  most  favourable  she  can  ob- 
tain,— that  if  ever  he  marries  a  woman,  he  will  most  certainly 
marry  her ;  meanwhile  he  binds  her  to  treat  Silvius  well,  and 
not  to  nurse  too  flattering  a  hope. 

"  Rosette  acquitted  herself  of  her  part  with  a  sad,  fond  grace 
and  a  tone  of  mournful  resignation  which  went  to  the  heart ; 
and  when  Rosalind  said  to  her,  '  I  would  love  you  if  I  could,' 
the  tears  were  on  the  point  of  overflowing  her  eyes,  and  she 
found  it  difficult  to  restrain  them,  for  Phoebe's  history  is  hers, 
just  as  Orlando's  is  mine,  with  the  difference  that  everything 
turns  out  happily  for  Orlando,  while  Phoebe,  deceived  in  her 
love,  is  reduced  to  marrying  Silvius,  instead  of  the  charming 
ideal  she  would  fain  embrace.  Life  is  ordered  thus :  that 
which  makes  the  happiness  of  one,  makes  of  necessity  the  mis- 
fortune of  another.  It  is  very  fortunate  for  me  that  Theodore 
is  a  woman ;  it  is  very  unfortunate  for  Rosette  that  he  is  not 
a  man  ;  and  she  now  finds  herself  amid  the  amorous  impossi- 
bilities in  which  I  was  lately  lost. 

"  At  the  end  of  the  piece  Rosalind  lays  aside  the  doublet  of 
the  page  Ganymede  for  the  garments  of  her  sex,  and  makes 
herself  known  to  the  duke  as  his  daughter,  and  to  Orlando  as 
his  mistress.  The  god  Hymen  then  arrives  with  his  saffron 
livery  and  lawful  torches.  Three  marriages  take  place — Orlando 
weds  Rosalind,  Phoebe  Silvius,  and  the  facetious  Touchstone 
the  artless  Audrey.  Then  comes  the  salutation  of  the  epilogue, 
and  the  curtain  falls. 

"  We  have  been  very  greatly  interested  and  occupied  with  aP 
this.  It  was  in  some  measure  a  play  within  a  play,  an  invisible 
drama  unknown  to  the  audience,  which  we  acted  for  ourselves 

u 


266  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

alone,  and  which,  in  symbolical  words,  summed  up  our  entire 
life,  and  expressed  our  most  hidden  desires.  Without  Rosa- 
lind's singular  recipe,  I  should  have  become  more  sick  than 
ever,  without  even  the  hope  of  a  distant  cure,  and  should  have 
continued  to  wander  sadly  through  the  crooked  paths  of  the 
dark  forest. 

"  Nevertheless,  I  have  only  a  moral  certainty ;  I  am  without 
proofs,  and  I  cannot  remain  any  longer  in  this  state  of  un- 
certainty ;  I  really  must  speak  to  Theodore  in  a  more  definite 
manner.  I  have  gone  up  to  him  twenty  times  with  a  sentence 
prepared,  and  could  not  manage  to  utter  it  I  dare  not ;  I  have 
many  opportunities  of  speaking  to  him  alone,  either  in  the  park 
or  in  my  room,  or  in  his  own,  for  he  visits  me,  and  I  him,  but 
I  let  them  slip  without  availing  myself  of  them,  although  the 
next  moment  I  feel  mortal  regret,  and  fall  into  horrible 
passions  with  myself.  I  open  my  mouth,  and,  in  spite  of  my- 
self, other  words  take  the  place  of  those  that  I  would  utter ;  in- 
stead of  declaring  my  love,  I  enlarge  upon  the  rain  or  the  fine 
weather,  or  some  other  similar  stupidity.  Yet  the  season  is 
drawing  to  a  close,  and  we  shall  soon  return  to  town ;  the 
facilities  which  here  are  opened  up  favourably  to  my  desires 
will  never  be  met  with  again.  We  shall  perhaps  lose  sight  of 
each  other,  and  opposite  currents  will  no  doubt  carry  us  away. 

"  Country  freedom  is  so  charming  and  convenient  a  thing  ! 
the  trees,  even  when  they  have  lost  some  of  their  leaves  in 
autumn,  afford  such  delicious  shades  to  the  dreamings  of  in- 
cipient love!  it  is  difficult  to  resist  amid  the  surroundings  of 
beautiful  nature !  the  birds  have  such  languorous  songs,  the 
flowers  such  intoxicating  scents,  the  backs  of  the  hills  such 
golden  and  silky  turf!  Solitude  inspires  you  with  a  thousand 
voluptuous  thoughts,  which  the  whirlwind  of  the  world  would 
hive  scattered  or  have  caused  to  fly  hither  and  thither,  and 
the  instinctive  movement  of  two  beings  listening  to  the  beating 
of  their  hearts  in  the  silence  of  the  deserted  country  is  to 
entwine  the  arms  more  closely  and  enfold  each  otner,  as 
though  they  were  indeed  the  only  living  creatures  in  the  world 

"  I  was  out  walking  this  morning  ;   the  weather  was  mild 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  267 

and  damp,  and  though  the  sky  gave  no  glimpse  of  the  smallest 
lozenge  of  azure,  it  was  neither  dark  nor  lowering.  Two  or 
three  tones  of  pearl-grey,  harmoniously  blended,  bathed  it  from 
end  to  end,  and  across  this  vaporous  background  cottony 
clouds,  like  large  pieces  of  wool,  passed  slowly  along;  they 
were  being  driven  by  the  dying  breath  of  a  little  breeze,  scarcely 
strong  enough  to  shake  the  summits  of  the  most  restless  aspens  ; 
flakes  of  mist  were  rising  among  the  tall  chestnut-trees  and 
marking  the  course  of  the  river  in  the  distance.  When  the 
breeze  took  breath  again,  parched  and  reddened  leaves  would 
scatter  in  agitation  and  hasten  along  the  path  before  me  like 
swarms  of  timid  sparrows ;  then  the  breath  ceasing,  they  would 
sink  down  a  few  paces  further  on — a  true  image  of  those 
natures  which  seem  to  be  birds  flying  freely  with  their  wings, 
but  which  after  all  are  only  leaves  withered  by  the  morning 
frost,  the  toy  and  sport  of  the  slightest  passing  breeze. 

"  The  distance  was  stumped  with  vapour  and  the  fringes  of 
the  horizon  ravelled  on  the  border  in  such  a  manner  that  it  was 
scarcely  possible  to  determine  the  exact  point  at  which  the 
earth  ended  and  the  sky  began  :  a  grey  which  was  somewhat 
more  opaque,  and  a  mist  which  was  somewhat  more  dense, 
vaguely  indicating  the  separation  and  the  difference  of  the 
planes.  Through  this  curtain  the  willows,  with  their  ashen 
tops,  looked  like  spectral  rather  than  real  trees,  and  the  curves 
of  the  hills  had  a  greater  resemblance  to  the  undulations  of  an 
accumulation  of  clouds  than  to  the  bearings  of  solid  ground. 
The  outlines  of  objects  wavered  to  the  eye,  and  a  species  ot 
grey  weft  of  unspeakable  fineness,  like  a  spider's  web,  stretched 
between  the  foreground  of  the  landscape  and  the  retreating 
depths  behind ;  in  shaded  places  the  hatchings  were  much 
more  clearly  drawn,  displaying  the  meshes  of  the  network ;  in 
the  brighter  parts  this  misty  thread  was  imperceptible,  and 
became  lost  in  a  diffused  light.  In  the  air  there  was  some- 
thing drowsy,  damply  warm,  and  sweetly  dull,  which  strangely 
predisposed  to  melancholy. 

"  As  I  went  along  I  thought  that  with  me  too  autumn  was 
come  and  the  radiant  summer  vanished  never  to  return  ;  the 


268  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

tree  of  my  soul  was  perhaps  stripped  even  barer  than  the  trees 
of  the  forests ;  only,  on  the  loftiest  bough  a  single  green  little 
leaf  remained,  swaying,  and  quivering,  and  full  of  sadness  to  see 
its  sisters  leave  it  one  by  one. 

"  Remain  on  the  tree,  O  little  leaf  the  colour  of  hope,  cling 
to  the  bough  with  all  the  strength  of  thy  ribs  and  fibres ;  let 
not  thyself  be  dismayed  by  the  whistlings  of  the  wind,  O  good 
little  leaf !  for,  when  thou  art  gone,  who  will  mark  whether 
I  be  a  dead  or  a  living  tree,  and  who  will  restrain  the  woodman 
that  he  cut  not  my  foot  with  blows  of  his  axe  nor  make  faggots 
of  my  boughs  ?  It  is  not  yet  the  time  when  trees  are  bare  of 
leaves,  and  the  sun  may  yet  rid  himself  of  the  misty  swaddling- 
clothes  which  are  about  him. 

"This  sight  of  the  dying  season  impressed  me  greatly.  I 
thought  that  time  was  flying  fast,  and  that  I  might  die  without 
clasping  my  ideal  to  my  heart. 

"  As  I  returned  home  I  formed  a  resolution.  Since  I  could 
not  make  up  my  mind  to  speak,  I  wrote  all  my  destiny  on 
a  sheet  of  paper.  Perhaps  it  is  ridiculous  to  write  to  some  one 
living  in  the  same  house  with  you,  and  whom  you  may  see  any 
day  at  any  hour  ;  but  I  am  no  longer  one  to  consider  what  is 
ridiculous  or  not. 

"I  sealed  my  letter  not  without  trembling  and  changing  colour; 
then,  choosing  a  time  when  Theodore  was  out,  I  placed  it  on  the 
middle  of  his  table,  and  fled  with  as  much  agitation  as  though  I 
had  performed  the  most  abominable  action  in  the  world." 


XII. 


PROMISED  you  the  continuation  of  my  adven 
tures  ;  but  I  am  so  lazy  about  writing,  that  I  really 
must  love  you  as  the  apple  of  my  eye,  and  know 
that  you  are  more  inquisitive  than  Eve  or  Psyche, 
to  be  a.Dle  to  sit  down  before  a  table  with  a  large  sheet  of  white 
paper  which  is  to  be  turned  quite  black,  and  an  ink-bottle 
deeper  than  the  sea,  whose  every  drop  must  turn  into  thoughts, 
or  something  like  them,  without  coming  to  the  sudden  resolu- 
tion of  mounting  on  horseback  and  going  at  full  speed  over 
the  eighty  enormous  leagues  which  separate  us,  to  tell  you 
vira-voce  what  I  am  going  to  scrawl  to  you  in  imperceptible 
lines,  so  that  I  may  not  be  frightened  myself  at  the  prodigious 
volume  of  my  Picaresque  odyssey. 

"  Eighty  leagues !  to  think  that  there  is  all  this  space- 
between  me  and  the  person  whom  I  love  best  in  the  world  ! 
I  have  a  great  mind  to  tear  up  my  letter  and  have  my  horse 
saddled.  But  I  forgot ;  in  the  dress  that  I  am  wearing  I  could 
not  approach  you  and  resume  the  familiar  life  which  we  used  to 
lead  together  when  we  were  very  ingenuous  and  innocent  little 
girls.  If  I  ever  go  back  to  petticoats,  it  will  certainly  be  from 
this  motive. 

"  I  left  you,  I  think,  at  the  departure  from  the  inn  where  1 
had  passed  such  a  comical  night,  and  where  my  virtue  was 
nearly  making  shipwreck  as  it  was  leaving  the  harbour.  We  all 
set  out  together,  going  in  the  same  direction.  My  com- 
panions were  in  the  greatest  raptures  over  the  beauty  of  my 
horse,  which  is,  in  fact,  a  thoroughbred,  and  one  of  the  best 


270  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

coursers  in  existence;  this  raised  me  at  least  half  a  cubit 
in  their  estimation,  and  they  added  all  my  mount's  deserts 
to  my  own.  Nevertheless,  they  seemed  to  fear  that  it  was 
too  frisky  and  spirited  for  me.  I  bade  them  calm  their  fears, 
and  to  show  them  that  there  was  no  danger,  made  it  curvet 
several  times;  then  I  cleared  rather  a  high  fence,  and  set 
off  at  a  gallop. 

"  The  band  tried  in  vain  to  follow  me  ;  I  turned  bridle  when 
I  was  far  enough  away,  and  returned  at  full  speed  to  meet 
them ;  when  I  was  close  to  them  I  checked  my  horse  as 
he  was  launched  out  on  his  four  feet  and  stopped  him  short, 
which,  as  you  know,  or,  as  you  do  not  know,  is  a  genuine 
feat  of  strength. 

"  From  esteem  they  passed  at  a  bound  to  the  profoundest 
respect  They  had  not  suspected  that  a  young  scholar,  who 
had  only  just  left  the  university,  was  so  good  a  horseman  as 
all  that  This  discovery  that  they  made  was  of  greater  ser- 
vice to  me  than  if  they  had  recognised  in  me  every  theological 
and  cardinal  virtue ; — instead  of  treating  me  as  a  youngster  they 
spoke  to  me  with  a  tone  of  obsequious  familiarity  which  was 
very  gratifying  to  me. 

"  I  had  not  laid  aside  my  pride  with  my  clothes :  being  no 
longer  a  woman,  I  wished  to  be  in  every  respect  a  man,  and 
not  to  be  satisfied  with  having  merely  the  external  appearance 
of  one.  I  had  made  up  my  mind  to  have  as  a  gentleman 
the  success  to  which,  in  the  character  of  a  woman,  I  could 
no  longer  pretend.  What  I  was  most  anxious  about  was 
to  know  how  I  should  proceed  in  order  to  possess  courage ; 
for  courage  and  skill  in  bodily  exercises  are  the  means  by 
which  men  find  it  easiest  to  establish  their  reputation.  It 
is  not  that  I  am  timid  for  a  woman,  and  I  am  devoid  of  the 
idiotic  pusillanimity  to  be  seen  in  many;  but  from  this  to  the 
fierce  and  heedless  brutality  which  is  the  glory  of  men  there 
still  remains  a  wide  interval,  and  my  intention  was  to  become  a 
little  fire-eater,  a  hector  like  men  of  fashion,  so  that  I  might  be 
on  a  good  footing  in  society  and  enjoy  all  the  advantages  of  my 
metamorphosis. 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  271 

"  But  the  course  of  events  showed  me  that  nothing  was  easier, 
and  that  the  recipe  for  it  was  very  simple. 

"  I  will  not  relate  to  you,  after  the  custom  of  travellers, 
that  I  did  so  many  leagues  on  such  a  day,  and  went  from  such 
a  place  to  such  another,  that  the  roast  at  the  White  Horse 
or  the  Iron  Cross  was  raw  or  burnt,  the  wine  sour,  and  the 
bed  in  which  I  slept  hung  with  figured  or  flowered  curtains  : 
such  details  are  very  important  and  fitting  to  be  preserved  for 
posterity ;  but  posterity  must  do  without  them  for  once,  and 
you  must  submit  to  be  ignorant  of  the  number  of  dishes  com- 
posing my  dinner,  and  whether  I  slept  well  or  ill  during  the 
course  of  my  travels. 

"  Nor  shall  I  give  you  an  exact  description  of  the  different 
landscapes,  the  corn-fields  and  forests,  the  various  modes  of 
cultivation  and  the  hamlet-laden  hills  which  passed  in  succession 
before  my  eyes  :  it  is  easy  to  imagine  them  ;  take  a  little  earth, 
plant  a  few  trees  and  some  blades  of  grass  in  it,  daub  on  a  bit 
of  greyish  or  pale  blue  sky  behind,  and  you  will  have  a  very 
sufficient  idea  of  the  moving  background  against  which  our 
little  caravan  was  to  be  seen.  If,  in  my  first  letter,  I  entered 
into  some  details  of  the  kind,  pray  excuse  me,  I  will  not  relapse 
into  the  same  fault  again  :  as  I  had  never  gone  out  before,  the 
least  thing  seemed  to  me  of  enormous  importance. 

"  One  of  the  gentlemen,  the  sharer  of  my  bed,  he  whom 
I  had  nearly  pulled  by  the  sleeve  in  that  memorable  night 
the  agonies  of  which  I  have  described  to  you  at  length,  con 
ceived  a  great  passion  for  me,  and  kept  his  horse  by  the  side  of 
mine  the  whole  time. 

"  Except  that  I  would  not  have  accepted  him  for  a  lover 
though  he  brought  me  the  fairest  crown  in  the  world,  he  was 
not  at  all  displeasing ;  he  was  well-informed,  and  was  not  without 
wit  and  good-humour :  only,  when  he  spoke  of  women,  he  did 
so  with  an  air  of  contempt  and  irony,  for  which  I  would  most 
willingly  have  torn  both  his  eyes  out  of  his  head,  and  this  the 
more  because,  for  all  its  exaggeration,  there  was  a  great  deal  in 
what  he  said  that  was  cruelly  true,  and  the  justice  of  which  my 
man's  attire  compelled  me  to  admit. 


272  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

"  He  invited  me  so  pressingly  and  so  often  to  go  with  him 
on  a  visit  to  one  of  his  sisters,  whose  widowhood  was  nearly 
over,  and  who  was  then  living  at  an  old  mansion  with  one  of  his 
aunts,  that  I  could  not  refuse  him.  I  made  a  few  objections 
for  form's  sake,  for  in  reality  I  was  as  ready  to  go  there  as  any- 
where else,  and  I  could  attain  my  end  as  well  in  this  fashion 
as  in  another ;  and,  as  he  assured  me  that  he  would  feel  quite 
offended  if  I  did  not  give  him  at  least  a  fortnight,  I  replied  that 
I  was  willing,  and  that  the  matter  was  settled. 

"  At  a  branching  of  the  road,  my  companion,  pointing  to  the 
right  stroke  of  this  natural  Y,  said  to  me  !  '  It  is  down  there  ! ' 
The  rest  gave  us  a  grasp  of  the  hand  and  departed  in  the  other 
direction. 

"  After  a  few  hours'  travelling  we  reached  our  destination. 

"  A  moat,  which  was  rather  broad,  but  which  was  filled  with 
abundant  and  bushy  vegetation  instead  of  with  water,  separated 
the  park  from  the  high-road ;  it  was  lined  with  freestone,  and 
the  angles  bristled  with  gigantic  iron  spikes,  which  looked  as 
if  they  had  grown  like  natural  plants  between  the  disjointed 
blocks  of  the  wall.  A  little  one-arched  bridge  crossed  this  dry 
channel  and  gave  access  to  the  gateway. 

"  An  avenue  of  lofty  elms,  arched  like  an  arbour  and  cut  in 
the  old  style,  appeared  before  you  first  of  all ;  and,  after  following 
it  for  some  time,  you  arrived  at  a  kind  of  cross-roads. 

"  The  trees  looked  superannuated  rather  than  old ;  they 
appeared  to  be  wearing  wigs  and  white  powder ;  only  a  little 
tuft  of  foliage  had  been  spared  to  them  quite  at  the  top ;  all  the 
remainder  was  carefully  pruned,  so  that  they  might  have  been 
taken  for  huge  plumes  planted  at  intervals  in  the  ground. 

'•  After  leaving  the  cross-way,  which  was  covered  with  fine, 
carefully-rolled  grass,  you  had  then  to  pass  beneath  a  curious 
piece  of  foliage  architecture  ornamented  with  fire-pots,  pyramids 
and  rustic  columns,  all  wrought  with  the  assistance  of  sheais 
and  hedgebills  in  an  enormous  clump  of  box.  In  different 
perspectives  to  right  and  left  might  be  seen  now  a  half-ruined 
rock-work  castle,  now  the  moss-eaten  staircase  of  a  dried-up 
waterfall,  or  perhaps  a  vase,  or  a  statue  of  a  nymph  and  shepherd 


iMADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  273 

with  nose  and  fingers  broken  and  some  pigeons  perched  on 
their  shoulders  and  head. 

"  A  large  flower-garden,  laid  out  in  the  French  style,  stretched 
before  the  mansion ;  all  the  divisions  were  traced  with  box  and 
holly  in  the  most  rigorously  symmetrical  manner ;  it  had  quite 
as  much  the  appearance  of  a  carpet  as  of  a  garden  :  large 
flowers  in  ball-dress,  with  majestic  bearing  and  serene  air,  like 
duchesses  preparing  to  dance  a  minuet,  bent  their  heads  slightly 
to  you  as  you  passed;  others,  apparently  less  polished,  remained 
stiff  and  motionless,  like  dowagers  working  tapestry.  Shrubs  of 
every  possible  shape,  always  excepting  the  natural  one,  round, 
square,  pointed  and  triangular,  in  green  and  grey  boxes,  seemed 
to  walk  in  procession  along  the  great  avenue,  and  lead  you  by 
the  hand  to  the  foot  of  the  steps. 

"  A  few  turrets,  half  entangled  in  more  recent  constructions, 
rose  above  the  line  of  the  building  by  the  whole  height  of  theii 
slate  extinguishers,  and  their  dove-tailed  vanes  of  iron-plate 
bore  witness  to  a  sufficiently  honourable  antiquity.  The  win- 
dows of  the  pavilion  in  the  centre  all  opened  upon  a  common 
balcony  ornamented  with  a  very  rich  and  highly-wrought  iron 
balustrade,  and  the  rest  were  surrounded  with  stone  facings 
jculptured  in  figures  and  knots. 

"  Four  or  five  large  dogs  ran  up  with  open-mouthed  barkings 
and  prodigious  gambols.  They  frisked  about  the  horses,  jump- 
ing up  to  their  noses,  and  gave  a  special  welcome  to  my 
comrade's  horse,  which  probably  they  often  visited  in  the 
stable  or  followed  out-of-doors. 

"  A  kind  of  servant,  looking  half  labourer  and  half  groom,  at . 
last  appeared  at  all  this  noise,  and  taking  our  beasts  by  the 
bridle  led  them  away.  I  had  not  as  yet  seen  a  living  soul,  with 
the  exception  of  a  little  peasant-girl,  as  timid  and  wild  as  a  deer, 
who  had  fled  at  the  sight  of  us  and  crouched  down  in  a  furrow 
behind  some  hemp,  although  we  had  called  to  her  over  and 
over  again,  and  done  all  we  could  to  reassure  her. 

"  No  one  was  to  be  seen  at  the  windows ;  you  would  have 
thought  that  the  mansion  was  not  inhabited  at  all,  or  only  by. 
spirits,  for  not  the  slightest  sound  could  be  hea'ri  from  without, 


274  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

u  We  were  beginning  to  ascend  the  steps,  jingling  our  spurs, 
for  our  legs  were  rather  numb,  when  we  heard  a  noise  inside 
like  the  opening  and  shutting  of  doors,  as  if  some  one  were 
hastening  to  meet  us. 

"  In  fact,  a  young  woman  appeared  at  the  top  of  the  steps, 
cleared  the  space  separating  her  from  my  companion  at  a  single 
bound,  and  threw  herself  on  his  neck.  He  embraced  her  most 
affectionately,  and  putting  his  arm  round  her  waist,  and  almost 
lifting  her  up,  carried  her  in  this  way  to  the  top. 

"  '  Do  you  know  that  you  are  very  amiable  and  polite  for  a 
brother,  my  dear  Alcibiades  ?  It  is  not  at  all  unnecessary,  sir, 
is  it,  to  apprise  you  that  he  is  my  brother,  for  he  certainly  has 
scarcely  the  ways  of  one  ? '  said  the  young  and  fair  one  turning 
towards  me. 

"  To  which  I  replied  that  a  mistake  might  possibly  be  made 
about  it,  and  that  it  was  in  some  measure  a  misfortune  to  be 
her  brother  and  be  thus  excluded  from  the  list  of  her  adorers  ; 
and  that  were  this  my  case,  I  should  become  at  once  the  happiest 
and  most  miserable  cavalier  on  the  earth.  This  made  her 
smile  gently. 

"  Talking  thus  we  entered  a  parlour,  the  walls  of  which  were 
decorated  with  high-warped  Flanders  tapestry.  There  were 
large  trees,  with  sharp  pointed  leaves,  supporting  swarms  of  fan- 
tastic birds ;  the  colours,  altered  by  time,  showed  strange  trans- 
positions of  tints  ;  the  sky  was  green,  the  trees  royal  blue  with 
yellow  lights,  and  in  the  drapery  of  the  figures  the  shadow 
was  often  of  an  opposite  colour  to  the  ground  formed  by  the 
material ;  the  flesh  resembled  wood,  and  the  nymphs  walking 
beneath  the  faded  shades  of  the  forest  looked  like  unswathed 
mummies ;  their  mouths  alone,  the  purple  of  which  had  preserved 
its  primitive  tint,  smiled  with  an  appearance  of  life.  In  the 
foreground  bristled  tall  plants  of  singular  green,  with  broad - 
striped  flowers,  the  pistils  of  which  resembled  peacocks'  crests. 
Herons  with  serious  and  thoughtful  air,  their  heads  sunk  be- 
tween their  shoulders,  and  their  long  beaks  resting  on  their 
plump  crops,  stood  philosophically  on  one  of  their  thin  legs  in 
black  and  stagnant  water  streaked  with  tarnished  silver  threads; 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  275 

through  the  foliage  there  were  distant  glimpses  of  little  mansions 
with  turrets  like  pepper-boxes  and  balconies  filled  with  beautiful 
ladies  in  grand  attire  watching  processions  or  hunts  pass  by. 

"  Capriciously  indented  rockeries,  with  torrents  of  white  wool 
falling  from  them,  mingled  with  dappled  clouds  on  the  edge 
of  the  horizon. 

"  One  of  the  things  that  struck  me  most  was  a  huntress 
shooting  a  bird.  Her  open  fingers  had  just  released  the  string 
and  the  arrow  was  gone ;  but,  as  this  part  of  the  tapestry  happened 
to  be  at  a  corner,  the  arrow  was  on  the  other  side  of  the  wall 
and  had  described  a  sharp  curve,  while  the  bird  was  flying  away 
on  motionless  wings,  and  apparently  desirous  of  gaining  a 
neighbouring  branch. 

"This  arrow,  feathered  and  gold-tipped,  always  in  the  air 
and  never  reaching  the  mark,  had  a  most  singular  effect ;  it  was 
like  a  sad  and  mournful  symbol  of  human  destiny,  and  the 
more  I  looked  at  it,  the  more  I  discovered  in  it  mysterious  and 
sinister  meanings.  There  stood  the  huntress  with  her  foot 
advanced,  her  knee  bent,  and  her  eye,  with  its  silken  lashes, 
wide  open,  and  no  longer  able  to  see  the  arrow  which  had 
deviated  from  its  path.  She  seemed  to  be  looking  anxiously 
for  the  mottled-plumed  phenicopter  which  she  was  desirous 
of  bringing  down  and  expecting  to  see  fall  before  her  pierced 
through  and  through.  I  do  not  know  whether  it  was  a  mistake 
of  my  imagination,  but  I  thought  that  the  face  had  as  dull  and 
despairing  an  expression  as  that  of  a  poet  dying  without  having 
written  the  work  which  he  expected  to  establish  his  reputation, 
and  seized  by  the  pitiless  death-rattle  while  endeavouring  to 
dictate  it. 

"  I  am  talking  to  you  at  length  about  this  tapestry,  certainly 
at  a  greater  length  than  the  importance  of  the  subject  demands; 
but  that  fantastic  world  created  by  the  workers  in  high  warp  is  a 
thing  which  has  always  strangely  preoccupied  me. 

"  I  am  passionately  fond  of  its  imaginary  vegetation,  the 
flowers  and  plants  which  have  no  existence  in  reality,  the  forests 
of  unknown  trees  wherein  wander  unicorns  and  snowy  capri- 
mules  and  stags  with  golden  crucifixes  between  their  antlers, 


276  MADEiMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

and  commonly  pursued  by  red-bearded  hunters  in  Saracen 
costume. 

"  When  I  was  a  child,  I  scarcely  ever  entered  a  tapestried 
chamber  without  experiencing  a  kind  of  shiver,  and  when 
there  I  hardly  dared  to  stir. 

"  All  the  figures  standing  upright  against  the  wall,  and  deriv- 
ing a  sort  of  fantastic  life  from  the  undulation  of  the  material 
and  the  play  of  light,  seemed  to  me  so  many  spies  engaged  in 
watching  my  actions  in  order  to  give  an  account  of  them  at 
a  proper  time  and  place,  and  I  would  not  have  eaten  a  stolen 
apple  or  cake  in  their  presence. 

"  How  many  things  would  these  grave  personages  have  to  tell 
could  they  open  their  lips  of  red  thread,  and  could  sounds 
penetrate  into  the  concha  of  their  embroidered  ears  !  Of  how 
many  murders,  treasons,  infamous  adulteries  and  monstrosities 
of  all  kinds  are  they  not  silent  and  impassible  witnesses ! 

"  But  let  us  leave  the  tapestry  and  return  to  our  story. 

"  '  Alcibiades,  I  will  have  my  aunt  informed  of  your  arrival.' 

"  '  Oh  !  there  is  no  great  hurry  about  that,  my  dear  sister ;  let 
us  sit  down  first  of  all  and  talk  a  little.  I  have  to  introduce  to 
you  a  gentleman,  Theodore  de  Serannes,  who  will  spend  some 
time  here.  I  have  no  need  to  recommend  you  to  give  him  a 
hearty  welcome;  he  is  himself  a  sufficient  recommendation.'  (I 
am  telling  you  what  he  said ;  do  not  accuse  me  unreasonably 
of  conceit.) 

"  The  fair  one  slightly  bent  her  head  as  though  to  give  assent, 
and  we  spoke  of  something  else. 

"  While  conversing,  I  looked  at  her  minutely,  and  exa- 
mined her  with  more  attention  than  I  had  found  possible  until 
then. 

"  She  was  perhaps  twenty-three  or  twenty-four  years  of  age, 
and  her  mourning  was  most  becoming  to  her;  truth  to  tell,  she 
had  not  a  very  lugubrious  or  disconsolate  appearance,  and  I 
suspect  that  she  would  have  eaten  the  ashes  of  her  Mausolus 
in  her  soup  like  rhubarb.  I  do  not  know  whether  she  had 
wept  plenteously  for  her  deceased  spouse ;  if  so,  there  was,  at 
all  events,  little  appearance  of  it,  and  the  pretty  cambric  hand 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  277 

kerchief  which  she  held  in  her  hand  was  as  perfectly  dry  as  it 
was  possible  to  be. 

"  Her  eyes  were  not  red,  but,  on  the  contrary,  were  the 
brightest  and  most  brilliant  in  the  world,  and  you  would  have 
sought  in  vain  on  her  cheeks  for  the  furrow  where  her  tears 
had  flowed  ;  there  were  in  fact  only  two  little  dimples  hollowed 
by  an  habitual  smile,  and  it  is  right  to  say  that,  for  a  widow, 
her  teeth  were  very  frequently  to  be  seen — certainly  not  a  dis- 
agreeable sight,  for  they  were  small  and  very  regular.  I 
esteemed  her  at  the  very  first  for  not  having  believed  that, 
because  a  husband  had  died,  she  was  obliged  to  discolour 
her  eyes  and  give  herself  a  violet  nose.  I  was  also  grateful 
to  her  for  not  assuming  a  doleful  little  air,  and  for  speaking 
naturally,  with  her  sonorous  and  silvery  voice,  without  drawling 
her  words  and  breaking  her  phrases  with  virtuous  sighs. 

"  This  appeared  to  me  in  very  good  taste  ;  I  judged  her  from 
the  first  to  be  a  woman  of  sense,  as  indeed  she  is. 

"She  was  well  made,  with  a  very  becoming  hand  and  foot ; 
her  black  costume  was  arranged  with  all  possible  coquettish- 
ness,  and  so  gaily  that  the  lugubriousness  of  the  colour  com- 
pletely disappeared,  and  she  might  have  gone  to  a  ball  dressed 
as  she  was  without  any  one  considering  it  strange.  If  ever  I 
marry  and  become  a  widow,  I  shall  ask  for  a  pattern  of  her 
dress,  for  it  becomes  her  angelically. 

"  After  some  conversation  we  went  up  to  see  the  old  aunt. 

"We  found  her  seated  in  a  large,  easy-backed  arm-chair, 
with  a  little  stool  under  her  foot,  and  beside  her  an  old  dog, 
bleared  and  sullen,  which  raised  its  black  muzzle  at  our  arrival, 
and  greeted  us  with  a  very  unfriendly  growl. 

"  I  have  never  looked  at  an  old  woman  without  horror.  My 
mother  died  when  quite  young ;  no  doubt,  if  I  had  seen  her 
slowly  growing  old,  and  seen  her  features  becoming  distorted  in 
an  imperceptible  progression,  I  should  have  quietly  come  to  be 
used  to  it.  In  my  childhood  I  was  surrounded  only  by  young 
and  smiling  faces,  so  that  I  have  preserved  an  insurmountable 
antipathy  towards  old  people.  Hence  I  shuddered  when  the 
beautiful  widow  touched  the  dowager's  yellow  forehead  with  her 


278  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

pure,  vermilion  lips.  It  is  what  I  could  not  undertake  to  do. 
I  know  that  I  shall  he  like  her  when  I  am  sixty  years  old ;  but 
it  is  all  the  same,  I  cannot  help  it,  and  I  pray  God  that  He 
may  make  me  die  young  like  my  mother. 

"  Nevertheless,  this  old  woman  had  retained  some  simple  and 
majestic  traces  of  her  former  beauty  which  prevented  her  from 
falling  into  that  roast-apple  ugliness  which  is  the  portion  of 
women  who  have  been  only  pretty  or  simply  fresh ;  her  eyes, 
though  terminating  at  their  corners  in  claws  of  wrinkles,  and 
covered  with  large,  soft  eyelids,  still  possessed  a  few  sparks  of 
their  early  fire,  and  you  could  see  that  in  the  last  reign  they 
must  have  darted  dazzling  lightnings  of  passion.  Her  thin  and 
delicate  nose,  somewhat  curved  like  the  beak  of  a  bird  of  prey, 
gave  to  her  profile  a  sort  of  serious  grandeur,  which  was 
tempered  by  the  indulgent  smile  of  her  Austrian  lip,  painted 
with  carmine,  after  the  fashion  of  the  last  century. 

"Her  costume  was  olt1.- fashioned  without  being  ridiculous, 
and  was  in  perfect  harmony  with  her  face  ;  for  head-dress 
she  had  a  simple  mob-cap,  white,  with  small  lace ;  her  long, 
thin  hands,  which  you  could  see  had  been  very  beautiful, 
trembled  in  mittens  without  either  fingers  or  thumb ;  a  dress  of 
dead-leaf  colour,  figured  with  flowerings  of  deeper  hue,  a  black 
mantle  and  an  apron  of  pigeon's  neck  paduasoy,  completed 
her  attire. 

"  Old  women  should  always  dress  in  this  way,  and  have 
sufficient  respect  for  their  approaching  death  not  to  harness 
themselves  with  feathers,  garlands  of  flowers,  bright-coloured 
ribbons,  and  a  thousand  baubles  which  are  becoming  only  to 
extreme  youth.  It  is  vain  for  them  to  make  advances  to  life, 
life  will  have  no  more  of  them ;  with  the  expenses  to  which 
they  put  themselves,  they  are  like  superannuated  courtesans  who 
plaster  themselves  with  red  and  white,  and  are  spurned  on  the 
pavement  by  drunken  muleteers  with  kicks  and  insults. 

"  The  old  lady  received  us  with  that  exquisite  ease  and 
politeness  which  is  the  gift  of  those  who  belonged  to  the  old 
court,  and  the  secret  of  which  seemingly  is  being  lost  from 
day  to  day,  like  so  many  other  excellent  secrets,  and  with  a 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  279 

voice  which,  broken  and  tremulous  as  it  was,  still  possessed 
great  sweetness. 

"  I  appeared  to  please  her  greatly,  and  she  looked  at  me  for 
a  very  long  time  with  much  attention  and  with  apparently 
deep  emotion.  A  tear  formed  in  the  corner  of  her  eye  and 
crept  slowly  down  one  of  her  great  wrinkles,  wherein  it  was 
lost  and  dried.  She  begged  me  to  excuse  her  and  told  me 
that  I  was  very  like  a  son  of  hers  who  had  been  killed  in  the 
army. 

"  Owing  to  this  real  or  imaginary  likeness,  the  whole  time 
that  I  stayed  at  the  mansion,  I  was  treated  by  the  worthy  dame 
with  extraordinary  and  quite  maternal  kindness.  I  discovered 
more  charms  in  her  than  I  should  have  at  first  believed  possible, 
for  the  greatest  pleasure  that  elderly  people  can  give  me  is 
never  to  speak  to  me,  and  to  go  away  when  I  arrive. 

"  I  shall  not  give  you  a  detailed  account  of  my  daily  doings 

at  R .  If  I  have  been  somewhat  diffuse  through  all  this 

commencement,  and  have  sketched  you  these  two  or  three 
physiognomies  of  persons  or  places  with  some  care,  it  is  because 
some  very  singular  though  very  natural  things  befell  me  there, 
things  which  I  ought  to  have  foreseen  when  assuming  the  dress 
of  a  man. 

"  My  natural  levity  caused  me  to  be  guilty  of  an  indiscretion 
of  which  I  cruelly  repent,  for  it  has  filled  a  good  and  beautiful 
soul  with  a  perturbation  which  I  cannot  allay  without  discovering 
what  I  am  and  compromising  myself  seriously. 

"  In  order  to  appear  perfectly  like  a  man,  and  to  divert  my- 
self a  little,  I  thought  that  I  could  not  do  better  than  woo  my 
friend's  sister.  It  appeared  very  funny  to  me  to  throw  myself 
on  all  fours  when  she  dropped  her  glove  and  restore  it  to  her 
with  profound  obeisances,  to  bend  over  the  back  of  her  easy- 
chair  with  an  adorably  languorous  little  air,  and  to  drop  a 
thousand  and  one  of  the  most  charming  madrigals  into  the 
hollow  of  her  ear.  As  soon  as  she  wished  to  pass  from  one 
room  to  another  I  would  gracefully  offer  her  my  hand ;  if  she 
mounted  on  horseback  I  held  the  stirrup,  and  when  walking  I 
was  always  by  her  side ;  in  the  evening  I  read  to  her  and  sang 


2So  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUI'IN. 

with  her;  in  brief,  I  performed  all  the  duties  of  a  '  cavaliere 
servente '  with  scrupulous  exactness. 

"  I  pretended  everything  that  I  had  seen  lovers  do,  which 
amused  me  and  made  me  laugh  like  the  true  madcap  that  I  am, 
when  I  was  alone  in  my  room,  and  reflected  on  all  the  imper- 
tinent things  I  had  just  uttered  in  the  most  serious  tone  in  the 
world. 

"  Alcibiades  and  the  old  marchioness  appeared  to  view  this 
intimacy  with  pleasure  and  very  often  left  us  together.  I 
sometimes  regretted  that  I  was  not  really  a  man,  that  I  might 
have  profited  better  by  it ;  had  I  been  one,  the  matter  would 
have  been  in  my  own  hands,  for  our  charming  widow  seemed 
to  have  totally  forgotten  the  deceased,  or,  if  she  did  remember 
him,  she  would  willingly  have  been  faithless  to  his  memory. 

"  After  beginning  in  this  fashion  I  could  not  honourably 
draw  back  again,  and  it  was  very  difficult  to  effect  a  retreat 
with  arms  and  baggage ;  yet  I  could  not  go  beyond  a  certain 
limit,  nor  had  I  much  knowledge  of  how  to  be  amiable  except 
in  words  :  I  hoped  to  be  able  to  reach  in  this  way  the  end  of 

the  month  which  I  was  to  spend  at  R and  then  to  retire, 

promising  to  return,  but  without  the  intention  of  doing  so. 
I  thought  that  at  my  departure  the  fair  one  would  console 
herself,  and  seeing  me  no  more  would  soon  forget  me. 

"  But  in  my  sport  I  had  aroused  a  serious  passion,  and  things 
turned  out  differently — an  illustration  of  a  long  well-known 
truth,  namely,  that  you  should  never  play  either  with  fire  or 
with  love. 

"  Before  seeing  me,  Rosette  knew  nothing  of  love.  Married 
very  young  to  a  man  much  older  than  herself,  she  had  been 
unable  to  feel  for  him  anything  more  than  a  sort  of  filial 
friendship ;  no  doubt  she  had  been  courted,  but,  extraordinary 
as  it  may  appear,  she  had  not  had  a  lover :  either  the  gallant? 
who  had  paid  her  attention  were  sorry  seducers,  or,  what  is 
more  likely,  her  hour  had  not  yet  struck.  Country  squires  and 
lordlings,  always  talking  of  fumets  and  leashes,  hog-steers  and 
antlers,  morts  and  stags  of  ten,  and  mingling  the  whole  with 
almanac  charades  and  madrigals  mouldy  with  age,  were  cer- 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  281 

tainly  little  adapted  to  suit  her,  and  her  virtue  had  not  to 
struggle  much  to  resist  them. 

"  Besides,  the  natural  gaiety  and  liveliness  of  her  disposition 
were  a  sufficient  defence  to  her  against  love,  that  soft  passion 
which  has  such  a  hold  upon  the  pensive  and  melancholy ;  the 
idea  which  her  old  Tithonus  had  been  able  to  give  her  of 
voluptuousness  must  have  been  a  very  indifferent  one  not  to 
cause  her  to  be  greatly  tempted  to  make  still  further  trials, 
and  she  was  placidly  enjoying  the  pleasure  of  being  a  widow 
so  soon  and  having  still  so  many  years  in  which  to  be 
beautiful. 

"  But  on  my  arrival  everything  was  quite  changed.  I  at  first 
believed  that  if  I  had  kept  within  the  narrow  limits  of  cold  and 
scrupulous  politeness  towards  her,  she  would  not  have  taken 
much  notice  of  me ;  but,  in  truth,  the  sequel  obliged  me  to 
admit  that  it  would  have  been  just  the  same,  neither  more  nor 
less,  and  that  though  my  supposition  was  a  very  modest,  it  was 
a  purely  gratuitous  one.  Alas  !  nothing  can  turn  aside  the 
fatal  ascendant,  and  no  one  can  escape  the  good  or  evil  in- 
fluence of  his  star. 

"  Rosette's  destiny  was  to  love  only  once  in  her  lifetime,  and 
with  an  impossible  love ;  she  must  fulfil  it,  and  she  will  fulfil  it. 

"  I  have  been  loved,  O  Graciosa  !  and  it  is  a  sweet  thing, 
though  it  was  only  by  a  woman,  and  though  there  was  an 
element  of  pain  in  such  an  irregular  love  which  cannot  belong 
to  the  other ; — oh  !  a  very  sweet  thing  !  When  you  awake  in 
the  night  and  rise  upon  your  elbow  and  say  to  yourself :  '  Some 
one  is  thinking  or  dreaming  of  me ;  some  one  is  occupied  with 
my  life  ;  a  movement  of  my  eyes  or  lips  makes  the  joy  or  the 
sadness  of  another  creature  ;  a  word  that  I  have  chanced  to  let 
fall  is  carefully  gathered  up  and  commented  on  and  turned  over 
for  whole  hours  ;  I  am  the  pole  to  which  a  restless  magnet  points, 
my  eye  is  a  heaven,  my  mouth  a  paradise  more  desired  than 
the  true  one  ;  were  I  to  die,  a  warm  rain  of  tears  would  revive 
my  ashes,  and  my  tomb  would  be  more  flowery  than  a  marriage 
gift ;  were  I  in  danger  some  one  would  rush  between  the 
sword's  point  and  my  breast ;  everything  would  be  sacrificed 


282  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUl'IN. 

for  me  ! ' — it  is  glorious  ;  I  do  not  know  what  more  one  can 
wish  for  in  the  world. 

"This  thought  gave  me  pleasure  for  which  I  reproached  my- 
self, since  1  1  ad  nothing  to  give  in  return  for  it  all,  but  was  in 
the  position  of  a  poor  person  accepting  presents  from  a  rich  and 
generous  friend  without  the  hope  of  ever  being  able  to  do  the 
like  for  him  in  turn.  It  charmed  me  to  be  adored  in  this  way, 
and  at  times  I  abandoned  myself  to  it  with  singular  compla- 
cency. From  hearing  every  one  call  me  '  Sir,'  and  seeing  my- 
self treated  as  though  I  were  a  man,  I  was  insensibly  forgetting 
that  I  was  a  woman;  my  disguise  seemed  to  me  my  natural 
dress,  and  I  was  forgetting  that  I  had  ever  worn  another ;  I  had 
ceased  to  remember  that  I  was  after  all  only  a  giddy  girl  who 
had  made  a  sword  of  her  needle,  and  cut  one  of  her  skirts  into 
a  pair  of  breeches. 

"  Many  men  are  more  womanish  than  I.  I  have  little  of  the 
woman,  except  her  breast,  a  few  rounder  lines,  and  more  deli- 
cate hands;  the  skirt  is  on  my  hips,  and  not  in  my  dis- 
position. It  often  happens  that  the  sex  of  the  soul  does  not  at 
all  correspond  with  that  of  the  body,  and  this  is  a  contradiction 
which  cannot  fail  to  produce  great  disorder.  For  my  own  part, 
for  instance,  if  I  had  not  taken  this  resolution — mad  in  appear- 
ance, but  in  reality  very  wise — and  renounced  the  garments  of  a 
sex  which  is  mine  only  materially  and  accidentally,  I  should 
have  been  very  unhappy  :  I  like  horses,  fencing,  and  all  violent 
exercises ;  I  take  pleasure  in  climbing  and  running  about  like 
a  youth ;  it  wearies  me  to  remain  siuing  with  my  feet  close  to- 
gether and  my  elbows  glued  to  my  sides,  to  cast  my  eyes 
modestly  down,  to  speak  in  a  little,  soft,  honeyed  voice,  and 
to  pass  a  bit  of  wool  ten  million  times  through  the  holes 
in  a  canvas ;  I  have  not  the  least  liking  for  obedience,  and  the 
expression  that  I  most  frequently  employ  is  :  '  I  will.'  Beneath 
my  smooth  forehead  and  silken  hair  move  strong  and  manly 
thoughts ;  all  the  affected  nonsense  which  chiefly  beguiles 
women  has  never  stirred  me  to  any  great  degree,  and,  like 
Achilles  disguised  as  a  young  girl,  I  should  be  ready  to  re- 
linquish the  mirror  for  a  sword.  The  only  thing  that  pleases 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  283 

me  in  women  is  their  beauty ;  in  spite  of  the  inconveniences 
resulting  from  it,  I  would  not  willingly  renounce  my  form,  how- 
ever ill-assorted  it  may  be  with  the  mind  which  it  contains. 

"  There  was  an  element  of  novelty  and  piquancy  in  such  an 
intrigue,  and  I  should  have  been  greatly  amused  by  it  had  it 
not  been  taken  seriously  by  poor  Rosette.  She  began  to  love 
me  most  ingenuously  and  conscientiously,  with  all  the  power  of 
her  good  and  beautiful  soul — with  the  love  that  men  do  not 
understand  and  of  which  they  could  not  form  even  a  remote 
conception,  tenderly  and  ardently,  as  I  would  wish  to  be  loved, 
and  as  I  should  love,  could  I  meet  with  the  reality  of  my  dream. 
What  a  splendid  treasure  lost,  what  white  transparent  pearls, 
such  as  divers  will  never  find  in  the  casket  of  the  sea !  what 
sweet  breaths,  what  soft  sighs  dispersed  in  air,  which  might 
have  been  gathered  by  pure  and  amorous  lips  ! 

"  Such  a  passion  might  have  rendered  a  young  man  so 
happy !  so  many  luckless  ones,  handsome,  charming,  gifted, 
full  of  intellect  and  heart,  have  vainly  supplicated  on  their 
knees  insensible  and  gloomy  idols  !  so  many  good  and  tender 
souls  have  in  despair  flung  themselves  into  the  arms  of  courtesans, 
or  have  silently  died  away  like  lamps  in  tombs,  who  might  have 
been  rescued  from  debauchery  and  death  by  a  sincere  love ! 

"  What  whimsicality  is  there  in  human  destiny  !  and  what  a 
jester  is  chance  ! 

"  What  so  many  others  had  eagerly  longed  for  came  to 
me,  to  me  who  did  not  and  could  not  desire  it.  A  capricious 
young  girl  takes  a  fancy  to  ramble  about  the  country  in  man's 
dress  in  order  to  obtain  some  knowledge  as  to  what  she  may 
depend  upon  in  the  matter  of  her  future  lovers  ;  she  goes  to 
bed  at  an  inn  with  a  worthy  brother  who  conducts  her  with 
the  tip  of  his  finger  to  his  sister,  who  finds  nothing  better 
to  do  than  fall  in  love  with  her  like  a  puss,  like  a  dove, 
like  all  that  is  most  amorous  and  languorous  in  the  world. 
It  is  very  evident  that,  if  I  had  been  a  young  man  and  this 
state  of  things  might  have  been  of  some  service  to  me,  it  would 
have  been  quite  different,  and  the  lady  would  have  abhorred  me. 
Fortune  loves  thus  to  give  slippers  to  those  who  have  wooden 


28*  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

legs,  and  gloves  to  those  who  have  no  hands  ;  the  inheritance 
which  might  have  enabled  you  to  live  at  your  ease  usually  comes 
to  you  on  the  day  of  your  death. 

"Sometimes,  though  not  so  often  as  she  would  have  wished, 
I  visited  Rosette  at  her  bedside;  usually  she  received  only 
when  she  was  up,  but  this  rule  was  overlooked  in  my  favour. 
Many  other  things  might  have  been  overlooked,  had  I  wished ; 
but,  as  they  say,  the  most  beautiful  girl  can  only  give  what 
she  has,  and  what  I  had  would  not  have  been  of  much  use 
to  Rosette. 

"  She  would  stretch  out  her  little  hand  for  me  to  kiss — and  I 
confess  that  I  did  not  kiss  it  without  pleasure,  for  it  is  very  smooth, 
very  white,  exquisitely  scented,  and  softly  tender  with  incipient 
moisture  ;  I  could  feel  it  quiver  and  contract  beneath  my  lips,  the 
pressure  of  which  I  would  maliciously  prolong.  Then  Rosette, 
quite  moved  and  with  a  look  of  entreaty,  would  turn  towards  me 
her  long  eyes  laden  with  voluptuousness  and  bathed  in  humid 
and  transparent  light,  and  let  her  pretty  head,  raised  a  little  for 
my  better  reception,  fall  back  again  upon  her  pillow.  Beneath 
the  clothes  I  could  see  the  undulations  of  her  restless  bosom 
and  the  sudden  movements  of  her  whole  frame.  Certainly  any 
one  in  a  condition  to  venture  might  have  ventured  much ;  he 
would  surely  have  met  with  gratitude  for  his  temerity,  and 
thankfulness  for  having  skipped  some  chapters  of  the  romance. 

"  I  used  to  remain  an  hour  or  two  with  her,  without  relin- 
quishing the  hand  I  had  replaced  on  the  coverlet ;  we  had 
charming  and  interminable  talks,  for  although  Rosette  was  very 
much  preoccupied  with  her  love,  she  believed  herself  too  sure 
of  success  to  lose  much  of  her  freedom  and  playfulness  of  dis- 
position. (Duly  now  and  then  would  her  passion  cast  a  trans- 
parent veil  of  sweet  melancholy  upon  her  gaiety,  and  this 
rendered  her  still  more  pleasir.s.. 

"  In  fact,  it  would  have  been  an  unheard-of  thing  that  a  young 
beginner,  such  as  I  was  to  all  appearance,  should  not  have 
deemed  himself  very  well  off  with  such  good  fortune  and  have 
profited  by  it  to  the  best  of  his  ability.  Rosette,  indeed,  was 
by  no  means  one  likely  to  encounter  great  cruelties,  and  not 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN  285 

knowing  more  about  me,  she  counted  on  her  charms  and  on  my 
youth  in  default  of  my  love. 

"  Nevertheless,  as  the  situation  was  beginning  to  be  pro- 
longed beyond  its  natural  limits,  she  became  uneasy  about  it, 
and  scarcely  could  a  redoubling  of  flattering  phrases  and  fine 
protestations  restore  her  to  her  former  state  of  unconcern.  Two 
things  astonished  her  in  me,  and  she  noticed  contradictions  in 
my  conduct  which  she  was  unable  to  reconcile  :  they  were  my 
warmth  of  speech  and  my  coldness  of  action. 

"  You  know  bette~  than  any  one,  my  dear  Graciosa,  that  my 
friendship  has  all  the  characteristics  of  a  passion ;  it  is  sudden, 
eager,  keen,  exclusive,  with  love  even  to  jealousy,  and  my 
friendship  for  Rosette  was  almost  exactly  similar  to  the  friend- 
ship I  have  for  you.  A  mistake  might  have  been  caused  by 
less.  Rosette  was  the  more  completely  mistaken  about  it, 
because  the  dress  I  wore  scarcely  allowed  of  her  having  a 
different  idea. 

"  As  I  have  never  yet  loved  a  man,  the  excess  of  my  tender- 
ness has,  in  a  measure,  found  a  vent  in  my  friendships  with 
young  girls  and  young  women ;  I  have  displayed  the  same 
transport  and  exultation  in  them  as  I  do  in  everything  else,  for 
I  find  it  impossible  to  be  moderate  in  anything,  and  especially 
in  what  concerns  the  heart.  In  my  eyes  there  are  only  two 
classes  of  people — those  whom  I  worship,  and  those  whom  I 
execrate ;  the  others  are  to  me  as  though  they  did  not  exist, 
and  I  would  urge  my  horse  over  them  as  I  would  over  the 
highway  :  they  are  identical  in  my  mind  with  pavements  and 
milestones. 

"  I  am  naturally  expansive,  and  have  very  caressing  manners. 
When  walking  with  Rosette,  I  would  sometimes,  forgetful  of 
the  import  of  such  demonstrations,  pass  my  arm  about  her 
person  as  I  used  to  do  when  we  walked  together  in  the  lonely 
alley  at  the  end  of  my  uncle's  garden  ;  or,  perhaps,  leaning  on 
the  back  of  her  easy-chair  while  she  was  working  embroidery, 
I  would  roll  the  fair  down  on  the  plump  round  nape  of  her 
neck  between  my  fingers,  or  with  the  back  of  my  hand  smooth 
her  beautiful  hair  stretched  by  the  comb  and  give  it  additional 


286  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

lustre, — or,  perhaps,  it  would  be  some  other  of  those  endear- 
ments which,  as  you  know,  I  habitually  employ  with  my  deal 
friends. 

"  She  took  very  good  care  not  to  attribute  these  caresses  to 
mere  friendship.  Friendship,  as  it  is  usually  understood,  does 
not  go  to  such  heights;  but  seeing  that  I  went  no  further, 
she  was  inwardly  astonished  and  scarcely  knew  what  to  think ; 
she  decided  thus  :  that  it  was  excessive  timidity  on  my  part, 
caused  by  my  extreme  youth  and  a  lack  of  experience  in  love 
affairs,  and  that  I  must  be  encouraged  by  all  kinds  of  ad- 
vances and  kindnesses. 

"  In  consequence,  she  took  pains  to  contrive  for  me  a  multi- 
tude of  opportunities  for  private  conversations  in  places  calcu- 
lated to  embolden  me  by  their  solitude  and  remoteness  from 
all  noise  and  intrusion ;  she  took  me  for  several  walks  in  the 
great  woods,  to  try  whether  the  voluptuous  dreaming  and 
amorous  desires  with  which  tender  souls  are  inspired  by  the 
thick  and  kindly  shade  of  the  forests  might  not  be  turned  to 
her  advantage. 

"One  day,  after  having  made  me  wander  for  a  long  time 
through  a  very  picturesque  park  which  extended  for  a  great 
distance  behind  the  mansion,  and  which  was  unknown  to  me 
with  the  exception  of  those  parts  which  were  in  the  neighbour- 
hood of  the  buildings,  she  led  me,  by  a  little  capriciously  wind- 
ing path  bordered  with  elders  and  hazel  trees,  to  a  rustic 
cot,  a  kind  of  charcoal-burner's  hut  built  of  billets  placed  trans- 
versely, with  a  roof  of  reeds,  and  a  door  coarsely  made  of  five 
or  six  pieces  of  roughly-planed  wood,  the  interstices  of  which 
were  stopped  up  with  mosses  and  wild  plants;  quite  close, 
among  the  green  roots  of  tall  ashes  with  silvery  bark,  dotted 
here  and  there  with  dark  patches,  gushed  a  vigorous  spring, 
which,  a  few  feet  further  on,  fell  over  two  marble  steps  into  a 
basin  filled  with  cress  of  more  than  emerald  green. 

"  At  places  where  there  was  no  cress  might  be  seen  fine  sand 
as  white  as  snow ;  the  water  had  the  transparency  of  crystal 
and  the  coldness  of  ice ;  issuing  suddenly  from  the  ground, 
and  never  touched  by  the  faintest  sun-ray,  beneath  those  im- 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUl'IN.  287 

penetrable  shades,  it  had  no  time  to  become  warm  or  troubled. 
In  spite  of  its  crudity  I  love  such  spring  water,  and,  seeing  it 
there  so  limpid,  I  could  not  resist  a  desire  to  drink  of  it ;  I 
stooped  down  and  took  some  several  times  in  the  hollow  of  my 
hand,  having  no  other  vessel  at  my  disposal. 

"Rosette  intimated  a  wish  to  drink  also  of  this  water  to 
quench  her  thirst,  and  requested  me  to  bring  her  a  few  drops, 
for  she  dared  not,  she  said,  stoop  down  far  enough  to  reach  it 
herself.  I  plunged  both  my  hands,  which  I  had  joined  to- 
gether as  accurately  as  possible,  into  the  clear  fountain,  then 
raised  them  like  a  cup  to  Rosette's  lips,  and  kept  them  thus 
until  she  had  drained  the  water  contained  in  them — not  a  long 
time,  for  there  was  very  little,  and  that  little  trickled  through 
my  fingers,  however  tightly  I  closed  them  ;  it  made  a  very 
pretty  group,  and  it  is  almost  a  pity  that  there  was  no  sculptor 
present  to  take  a  sketch  of  it. 

"  When  she  had  almost  finished,  and  my  hand  was  close  to 
her  lips,  she  could  not  refrain  from  kissing  it,  in  such  a  way, 
however,  as  to  make  it  look  like  an  act  of  suction  for  the  pur- 
pose of  draining  the  last  pearl  of  water  gathered  in  my  palm ; 
but  I  was  not  deceived  by  it,  and  the  charming  blush  which  sud- 
denly overspread  her  countenance  betrayed  her  plainly  enough. 

"  She  took  my  arm  again,  and  we  proceeded  towards  the 
cot.  The  fair  one  walked  as  close  to  me  as  possible,  and 
when  speaking  to  me  leaned  over  in  such  a  way  that  her  bosom 
rested  entirely  on  my  sleeve — a  very  cunning  position,  and  one 
capable  of  disturbing  any  one  else  but  me;  I  could  feel  its 
pure  firm  outline  and  soft  warmth  perfectly  well — nay,  I  could 
even  remark  a  hurried  undulating  motion  which,  whether 
affected  or  real,  was  none  the  less  flattering  and  engaging. 

"  In  this  way  we  reached  the  door  of  the  cot,  which  I  opened 
with  a  kick,  and  I  was  certainly  not  prepared  for  the  sight  that  met 
my  eyes.  I  had  thought  that  the  hut  was  carpeted  with  rushes 
with  a  mat  on  the  floor  and  a  few  stools  to  rest  on  :  not  at  all. 

"  It  was  a  boudoir  furnished  with  all  imaginable  elegance. 
The  frieze  panels  represented  the  gallantest  scenes  in  Ovid's 
Metamorphoses:  Salmacis  and  Hermaphrodite,  Venus  and 


288  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

Adonis,  Apollo  and  Daphne,  and  other  mythological  loves  in 
bright  lilac  camaieu ;  the  piers  were  formed  of  pompon  roses 
very  delicately  sculptured,  and  little  daisies,  which,  with  a 
refinement  of  luxury,  had  only  their  hearts  gilded,  their  leaves 
being  silvered.  All  the  furniture  was  edged  with  silver  cord 
which  relieved  a  tapestry  of  the  softest  blue  that  could  possibly 
be  found,  and  one  marvellously  adapted  to  set  off  the  whiteness 
and  lustre  of  the  skin ;  mantelpiece,  consoles,  and  what-nots 
were  laden  with  a  thousand  charming  curiosities,  and  there  was 
such  a  luxurious  number  of  settees,  couches  and  sofas,  as  pretty 
clearly  showed  that  this  nook  was  not  designed  for  very  austere 
occupations,  and  that  certainly  no  maceration  went  on  in  it. 

"  A  handsome  rock-work  clock,  standing  on  a  richly-inlaid 
pedestal,  faced  a  large  Venetian  mirror,  and  was  repeated  in  it 
with  singular  gleamings  and  reflections.  It  had  stopped,  more- 
over, as  though  it  would  have  been  something  superfluous  to 
mark  the  hours  in  a  place  intended  to  forget  them. 

"  I  told  Rosette  that  this  refinement  of  luxury  pleased  me, 
that  I  thought  it  in  very  good  taste  to  conceal  the  greatest 
choiceness  beneath  an  appearance  of  simplicity,  and  that  I 
greatly  approved  of  a  woman  having  embroidered  petticoats 
and  lace-trimmed  chemises  with  an  outer  covering  of  simple 
material ;  that  to  the  lover  whom  she  had  or  might  have  it 
was  a  delicate  attention  fur  which  he  could  not  be  sufficiently 
grateful,  and  that  it  was  unquestionably  better  to  put  a  diamond 
into  a  nut,  than  a  nut  into  a  golden  box. 

"  To  prove  to  me  that  she  was  of  my  opinion,  Rosette  raised 
her  dress  a  little  and  showed  me  the  edge  of  a  petticoat  very 
richly  embroidered  with  large  flowers  and  leaves  ;  it  only  rested 
with  myself  to  be  let  into  the  secret  of  greater  internal  magni- 
ficence ;  but  I  did  not  ask  to  see  whether  the  splendour  of  the 
chemise  corresponded  with  that  of  the  petticoat :  it  is  probable 
that  it  was  equally  luxurious.  Rosette  let  the  fold  of  her  dress 
fall  again,  vexed  at  not  having  shown  more. 

"  Nevertheless,  the  exhibition  had  been  sufficient  to  display 
the  beginning  of  a  perfectly  turned  calf,  suggesting  the  most 
excellent  ascensional  ideas.  The  leg  which  she  held  out  in 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  289 

order  to  show  off  her  petticoat  to  better  advantage  was  indeed 
miraculously  delicate  and  graceful  in  its  neat  well  drawn  stock- 
ing of  pearl-grey  silk,  and  the  little  heeled  shoe,  adorned  with 
a  tuft  of  ribbons  in  which  it  terminated,  was  like  the  glass 
slipper  worn  by  Cinderella.  I  paid  her  very  sincere  compli- 
ments about  it,  and  told  her  that  I  had  never  known  a  prettier 
leg  or  a  smaller  foot,  and  that  I  did  not  think  that  they  could 
possibly  be  of  a  better  shape.  To  which  she  replied  with 
charming  and  lively  frankness  and  ingenuousness  : 

"  '  Tis  true.' 

"  Then  she  went  to  a  panel  contrived  in  the  wall,  took  out 
one  or  two  flagons  of  liqueurs  and  some  plates  of  sweetmeats  and 
cakes,  placed  the  whole  on  a  little  round  table,  and  came  and 
sat  down  beside  me  in  a  somewhat  narrow  easy  chair,  so  that, 
in  order  not  to  be  very  uncomfortable,  I  was  obliged  to  pass 
my  arm  behind  her  waist.  As  she  had  both  hands  free,  and  I 
had  just  my  left  to  make  use  of,  she  filled  my  glass  herself,  and 
put  fruits  and  sweets  upon  rny  plate ;  and  soon  even,  seeing 
that  I  was  rather  awkward,  she  said  to  me :  '  Come,  leave  it 
alone ;  I  am  going  to  feed  you,  child,  since  you  are  not  able 
to  eat  all  by  yourself.'  Then  she  herself  conveyed  the  morsels 
to  my  mouth,  and  forced  me  to  swallow  them  more  quickly 
than  I  wished,  pushing  them  in  with  her  pretty  fingers,  just  as 
people  do  with  birds  that  are  being  crammed,  and  laughing 
very  much  over  it. 

"I  could  scarcely  dispense  with  paying  her  fingers  back  the 
kiss  which  she  had  lately  given  to  the  palms  of  my  hands,  and, 
as  though  to  prevent  me  from  doing  so,  but  really  to  enable  me 
to  impart  a  greater  pressure  to  my  kiss,  she  struck  my  mouth 
two  or  three  times  with  the  back  of  her  hand. 

"  She  had  drunk  a  few  drops  of  Creme  des  Barbades,  with  a 
glass  of  Canary,  and  I  about  as  much.  It  was  certainly  not  a 
great  deal;  but  it  was  sufficient  to  enliven  a  couple  of  women 
accustomed  to  drink  scarcely  anything  stronger  than  water. 
Rosette  leaned  backwards,  throwing  herself  across  my  arm  in  very 
amorous  fashion.  She  had  cast  aside  her  mantle,  and  the 
upper  part  of  her  bosom,  strained  and  stretched  by  this  arched 


290  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

position,  could  be  seen ;  it  was  enchantingly  delicate  and  trans 
parent  in  tone,  while  its  shape  was  one  of  marvellous  daintiness 
and  solidity  combined.  I  contemplated  her  for  some  time  with 
indefinable  emotion  and  pleasure,  and  the  reflection  occurred 
to  me  that  men  were  more  favoured  in  their  loves  than  we, 
seeing  that  we  gave  them  possession  of  the  most  charming 
treasures  while  they  had  nothing  similar  to  offer  us. 

"  What  a  pleasure  it  must  be  to  let  their  lips  wander  over 
this  smooth  fine  skin,  and  these  rounded  curves  which  seem  to 
go  out  to  meet  the  kiss  and  challenge  it !  this  satin  flesh, 
these  undulating  and  mutually  involving  lines,  this  silky  hair  so 
soft  to  the  touch ;  what  exhaustless  sources  of  delicate  volup- 
tuousness which  we  do  not  possess  in  common  with  men  !  Our 
caresses  can  scarcely  be  other  than  passive,  and  yet  it  is  a  greater 
pleasure  to  give  than  to  receive. 

"  These  are  remarks  which  undoubtedly  I  should  not  have 
made  last  year,  and  I  might  have  seen  all  the  bosoms  and 
shoulders  in  the  world  without  caring  whether  their  shape  was 
good  or  bad ;  but,  since  I  have  laid  aside  the  dress  belonging 
to  my  sex  and  have  lived  with  young  men,  a  feeling  which  was 
unknown  to  me  has  developed  within  me  :  the  feeling  of  beauty. 
Women  are  usually  denied  it,  I  know  not  why,  for  at  first  sight 
they  would  seem  better  able  to  judge  of  it  than  men ;  but  as 
they  are  the  possessors  of  beauty,  and  self-knowledge  is  more 
difficult  than  that  of  any  other  description,  it  is  not  surprising 
that  they  know  nothing  at  all  about  it. 

"  Commonly,  if  one  woman  thinks  another  woman  pretty, 
you  may  be  sure  that  the  latter  is  very  ugly,  and  that  no  man 
will  take  any  notice  of  her.  On  the  other  hand,  all  women 
whose  beauty  and  grace  are  extolled  by  men  are  unanimously 
considered  abominable  and  affected  by  the  whole  petticoated 
tribe ;  there  are  cries  and  clamours  without  end.  If  I  were 
what  I  appear  to  be,  I  should  be  guided  in  my  choice  by 
nothing  else,  and  the  disapprobation  of  women  would  be  a 
sufficient  certificate  of  beauty  for  me. 

"  At  present  I  love  and  know  beauty ;  the  dress  I  wear  sepa- 
rates me  from  my  sex,  and  takes  away  from  me  all  species  of 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  291 

uvalry;  I  am  able  to  judge  it  better  than  another.  I  am  no 
longer  a  woman,  but  I  am  not  yet  a  man,  and  desire  will  not 
blind  me  so  far  as  to  make  me  take  puppets  for  idols ;  I  can 
see  coldly  without  any  prejudice  for  or  against,  and  my  position 
is  as  perfectly  disinterested  as  it  could  possibly  be. 

"  The  length  and  delicacy  of  the  eyelashes,  the  transparency 
of  the  temples,  the  limpidity  of  the  crystalline,  the  curvings  of 
the  ear,  the  tone  and  quality  of  the  hair,  the  aristocracy  of 
foot  and  hand,  the  more  or  less  slender  joints  of  leg  and  wrist, 
a  thousand  things  of  which  I  used  to  take  no  heed,  but  which 
constitute  real  beauty  and  prove  purity  of  race,  guide  me  in  my 
estimates,  and  scarcely  admit  of  a  mistake.  I  believe  that  if  I 
had  said  of  a  woman :  '  Indeed,  she  is  not  bad,'  you  might 
accept  her  with  your  eyes  shut. 

"  By  a  very  natural  consequence  I  understand  pictures  better 
than  I  did  before,  and  though  I  have  but  a  very  superficial 
tincture  of  the  masters,  it  would  be  difficult  to  make  me  pass  a 
bad  work  as  a  good  one ;  I  find  a  deep  and  singular  charm  in 
this  study ;  for,  like  everything  else  in  the  world,  beauty,  moral 
or  physical,  requires  to  be  studied,  and  cannot  be  penetrated  al! 
at  once. 

"  But  let  us  return  to  Rosette ;  the  transition  from  this 
subject  to  her  is  not  a  difficult  one,  for  they  are  two  ideas 
which  are  bound  up  in  each  other. 

"  As  I  have  said,  the  fair  one  had  thrown  herself  back  across 
my  arm  and  her  head  was  resting  against  my  shoulder  ;  emotion 
shaded  her  beautiful  cheeks  with  a  tender  rose-colour  which 
was  admirably  set  off  by  the  deep  black  of  a  very  coquettishly 
placed  little  patch  ;  her  teeth  gleamed  through  her  smile  like 
raindrops  in  the  depths  of  a  poppy,  and  the  humid  splendour  of 
her  large  eyes  was  still  further  heightened  by  her  half-drooping 
lashes ;  a  ray  of  light  caused  a  thousand  metallic  lustres  to 
play  on  her  silky  clouded  hair,  some  locks  of  which  had  escaped 
and  were  rolling  in  ringlets  along  her  plump  round  neck,  and 
relieving  its  warm  whiteness ;  a  few  little  downy  hairs,  more 
mutinous  than  the  rest,  had  got  loose  from  the  mass,  and  were 
twisting  themselves  in  capricious  spirals,  gilded  with  singular  re- 


292  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

flections,  and,  traversed  by  the  light,  assuming  all  the  shades  of 
the  prism :  you  would  have  thought  that  they  were  such 
golden  threads  as  surround  the  heads  of  the  virgins  in  the 
old  pictures.  We  both  kept  silence,  and  I  amused  myself 
with  tracing  her  little  azure-blue  veins  through  the  nacreous 
transparency  of  her  temples,  and  the  soft  insensible  depression 
of  the  down  at  the  extremities  of  her  eyebrows. 

"  The  fair  one  seemed  to  be  inwardly  meditating  and  to  be 
lulling  herself  in  dreams  of  infinite  voluptuousness;  her  arms 
hung  down  along  her  body  as  undulating  and  as  soft  as  loosened 
scarfs  ;  her  head  bent  back  more  and  more  as  though  the 
muscles  supporting  it  had  been  cut  or  were  too  feeble  for 
their  task.  She  had  gathered  up  her  two  little  feet  beneath 
her  petticoat,  and  had  succeeded  in  crouching  down  altogether 
in  the  corner  of  the  lounge  that  I  was  orcupying,  in  such  a  way 
that,  although  it  was  a  very  narrow  piece  of  furniture,  there  was 
a  large  empty  space  on  the  other  side. 

"  Her  easy,  supple  body  modelled  itself  on  mine  like  wax, 
following  its  external  outline  with  the  greatest  possible  accuracy  : 
water  would  not  have  crept  into  all  the  sinuosity  of  line  with 
more  exactness.  Clinging  thus  to  my  side,  she  suggested  the 
double  stroke  which  painters  give  their  drawings  on  the  side  of 
the  shadow,  in  order  to  render  them  more  free  and  full.  Only 
with  a  woman  in  love  can  there  be  such  undulations  and 
entwinings.  Ivy  and  willow  are  a  long  way  behind. 

"  The  soft  warmth  of  her  body  penetrated  through  her 
garments  and  mine ;  a  thousand  magnetic  currents  streamed 
around  her ;  her  whole  life  seemed  to  have  left  her  altogether 
and  to  have  entered  into  me.  Every  minute  she  was  more 
languishing,  expiring,  yielding  ;  a  light  sweat  stood  in  beads 
upon  her  lustrous  brow  ;  her  eyes  grew  moist,  and  two  or  three 
times  she  made  as  though  she  would  raise  her  hands  to  hide 
them  ;  but  half-way  her  wearied  arms  fell  back  upon  her  knees, 
and  she  could  not  succeed  in  doing  so  ; — a  big  tear  overflowed 
from  her  eyelid  and  rolled  along  her  burning  cheek  where  it 
was  soon  dried. 

"  My  situation  was  becoming  very  embarrassing  and  tolerably 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUTIN.  293 

ridiculous  ;  I  felt  that  I  must  look  enormously  stupid,  and  this 
provoked  me  extremely,  although  no  alternative  was  in  my 
power.  Enterprising  conduct  was  forbidden  me,  and  such  was 
the  only  kind  that  would  have  been  suitable.  I  was  too  sure 
of  meeting  with  no  resistance  to  risk  it,  and  I  was,  in  fact,  at  my 
wit's  end.  To  pay  compliments  and  repeat  madrigals  would 
have  been  excellent  at  the  beginning,  but  nothing  would  have 
appeared  more  insipid  at  the  stage  that  we  had  readied  ;  to  get 
up  and  go  out  would  have  been  unmannerly  in  the  extreme ;  and 
besides  I  am  not  sure  that  Rosette  would  not  have  played  the 
part  of  Potiphar's  wife,  and  held  me  by  the  corner  of  my  cloak. 

"  I  could  not  have  assigned  any  virtuous  motive  for  my 
resistance ;  and  then,  I  confess  it  to  my  shame,  the  scene, 
equivocal  as  its  nature  was  for  me,  was  not  without  a  charm 
which  detained  me  more  than  it  should  have  done  ;  this  ardent 
desire  kindled  me  with  its  flame,  and  I  was  really  sorry  to  be 
unable  to  satisfy  it  j  I  even  wished  to  be,  as  I  actually  appeared 
to  be,  a  man,  that  I  might  crown  this  love,  and  I  greatly 
regretted  that  Rosette  was  deceived  My  breathing  became 
hurried,  I  felt  blushes  rising  to  my  face,  and  I  was  little  less 
troubled  than  my  poor  lover.  The  idea  of  our  similitude  in  sex 
gradually  faded  away,  leaving  behind  only  a  vague  idea  of 
pleasure;  my  gaze  grew  dim,  my  lips  trembled,  and,  had  Rosette 
been  a  man  instead  of  what  she  was,  she  would  assuredly  have 
made  a  very  easy  conquest  cf  me. 

"  At  last,  unable  to  bear  it  any  longer,  she  got  up  abruptly 
with  a  sort  of  spasmodic  movement,  and  began  to  walk  about 
the  room  with  great  activity ;  then  she  stopped  before  the 
mirror  and  adjusted  some  locks  of  her  hair  which  had  lost 
their  folds.  During  this  promenade  I  cut  a  poor  figure,  and 
scarcely  knew  how  to  look. 

"  She  stopped  before  me  and  appeared  to  reflect. 

"  She  thought  that  it  was  only  a  desperate  timidity  that 
restrained  me,  and  that  I  was  more  of  a  schoolboy  than  she 
had  thought  at  first.  Beside  herself  and  excited  to  the  last 
degree  of  amorous  exasperation,  she  would  try  one  supreme 
effort  and  stake  all  on  the  result  at  the  risk  of  losing  the  game. 


294  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

"  She  came  up  to  me,  sat  down  on  my  knees  more  quickly 
than  lightning,  passed  her  arms  round  my  neck,  crossed  her 
hands  behind  my  head,  and  clung  with  her  lips  to  mine  in  a 
furious  embrace  ;  I  felt  her  half-naked  and  rebellious  bosom 
bounding  against  my  breast,  and  her  twined  fingers  twitching 
in  my  hair.  A  shiver  ran  through  my  whole  body,  and  my 
heart  beated  violently. 

"  Rosette  did  not  release  my  mouth  ;  her  lips  enveloped 
mine,  her  teeth  struck  against  my  teeth,  our  breaths  were 
mingled.  I  drew  back  for  an  instant,  and  turned  my  head  aside 
two  or  three  times  to  avoid  this  kiss ;  but  a  resistless  attrac- 
tion made  me  again  advance,  and  I  returned  it  with  nearly 
as  much  ardour  as  she  had  given  it.  I  scarcely  know  how 
it  would  all  have  ended  had  not  a  loud  barking  been  heard 
outside  the  door,  together  with  the  sound  of  scratching  feet 
The  door  yielded,  and  a  handsome  white  greyhound  came 
yelping  and  gambolling  into  the  cot. 

"  Rosette  rose  up  suddenly,  and  with  a  bound  sprang  to  the 
end  of  the  room.  The  handsome  white  greyhound  leaped  glee- 
fully and  joyously  about  her,  and  tried  to  reach  her  hands  in 
order  to  lick  them  ;  she  was  so  much  agitated  that  she  found 
great  difficulty  in  arranging  her  mantle  upon  her  shoulders. 

"  This  greyhound  was  her  brother  Alcibiades's  favourite  dog  ; 
it  never  left  him,  and  whenever  it  appeared,  its  master  to  a  cer- 
tainty was  not  far  off;  this  is  what  had  so  greatly  frightened 
poor  Rosette. 

"  In  fact  Alcibiades  himself  entered  a  minute  later,  booted 
and  spurred,  and  whip  in  hand.  '  Ah  !  there  you  are,'  said  he ; 
"  I  have  been  looking  for  you  for  an  hour  past,  and  I  should  cer- 
tainly not  have  found  you  had  not  my  good  greyhound  Snug 
unearthed  you  in  your  hiding  place.'  And  he  cast  a  half-serious, 
half-playful  look  upon  his  sister  which  made  her  blush  up  to  the 
eyes.  '  Apparently  you  must  have  had  very  knotty  subjects  to 
treat  of,  to  retire  into  such  profound  solitude?  You  were 
no  doubt  talking  about  theology  and  the  twofold  nature  of  the 
soul?' 

"  '  Oh  !  dear  no ;  our  occupation  was  not  nearly  so  sublime  ; 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  295 

we  were  eating  cakes  and  talking  about  the  fashions — that  is 
all.' 

"  '  I  don't  believe  a  word  of  it ;  you  appeared  to  me  to  be 
deep  in  some  sentimental  dissertation;  but  to  divert  you  from 
your  vapourish  conversation,  I  think  that  it  would  be  a  good 
thing  if  you  came  and  took  a  ride  with  me.  I  have  a  new  mare 
that  I  want  to  try.  You  shall  ride  her  as  well,  Theodore,  and 
we  will  see  what  can  be  made  of  her.' 

"We  went  out  all  three  together,  he  giving  me  his  arm,  and 
I  giving  mine  to  Rosette.  The  expressions  on  our  faces  were 
singularly  different.  Alcibiades  looked  thoughtful,  I  quite  at 
ease,  and  Rosette  excessively  annoyed. 

"  Alcibiades  had  arrived  very  opportunely  for  me,  but  very  in- 
opportunely for  Rosette,  who  thus  lost,  or  thought  she  lost,  all 
the  fruits  of  her  skilful  attacks  and  ingenious  tactics.  No  pro- 
gress had  been  made  ;  a  quarter  of  an  hour  later  and  the  devil 
take  me  if  I  know  what  issue  the  adventure  could  have  had — I 
cannot  see  one  that  would  not  have  been  impossible.  Perhaps 
it  might  have  been  better  if  Alcibiades  had  not  come  in  at  the 
ticklish  moment  like  a  god  in  his  machine  :  the  thing  must 
have  ended  in  one  way  or  another.  During  the  scene  I  was  two 
or  three  times  on  the  point  of  acknowledging  who  I  was  to 
Rosette  ;  but  the  dread  of  being  thought  an  adventuress  and  of 
seeing  my  secret  revealed  kept  back  the  words  that  were  ready 
to  escape  from  my  lips. 

"  Such  a  state  of  things  could  not  last.  My  departure  was 
the  only  means  of  cutting  short  this  bootless  intrigue,  and  ac- 
cordingly I  announced  officially  at  dinner  that  I  should  leave 
the  very  next  day.  Rosette,  who  was  sitting  beside  me,  nearly 
fainted  on  hearing  this  piece  of  news,  and  let  her  glass  fall.  A 
sudden  paleness  overspread  her  beautiful  face  :  she  cast  on  me 
a  mournful  and  reproachful  look  which  made  me  nearly  as  much 
affected  and  troubled  as  she  was  herself. 

"  The  aunt  raised  her  old  wrinkled  hands  with  a  movement 
of  painful  surprise,  and  said  in  her  shrill,  trembling  voice,  which 
was  even  more  tremulous  than  usual :  '  My  dear  Monsieur 
Theodore,  are  you  going  to  leave  us  in  that  fashion  ?  That  i> 


296  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

not  right ;  yesterday  you  did  not  seem  in  the  least  disposed  to 
go.  The  post  has  not  come,  and  so  you  have  received  no 
letters,  and  are  without  any  motive.  You  had  granted  us  a 
fortnight  longer,  and  now  you  are  taking  it  back  ;  you  have 
really  no  right  to  do  so  :  what  has  been  given  cannot  be  taken 
away  again.  See  how  Rosette  is  looking  at  you,  and  how  angry 
she  is  with  you  ;  I  warn  you  that  I  shall  be  at  least  as  angry  as 
she  is.  and  look  quite  as  sternly  at  you,  and  a  stern  face  at  sixty - 
eight  is  a  little  more  terrible  than  one  at  twenty-three.  See  to 
what  you  are  voluntarily  exposing  yourself :  the  wrath  both  of 
aunt  and  niece,  and  all  on  account  of  some  caprice  which  has 
suddenly  entered  your  head  at  dessert.' 

"  Alcibiades,  giving  the  table  a  great  blow  with  his  fist,  swore 
that  he  would  barricade  the  doors  of  the  mansion  and  ham- 
string my  horse  sooner  than  let  me  go. 

Rosette  cast  another  look  upon  me,  and  one  so  sad  and  sup- 
plicating that  nothing  short  of  the  ferocity  of  a  tiger  that  had 
been  fasting  for  a  week  could  have  failed  to  be  moved  by  it.  I 
did  not  withstand  it,  and,  though  it  gave  me  singular  annoyance, 
I  made  a  solemn  promise  to  stay.  Dear  Rosette  would  willingly 
have  fallen  on  my  neck  and  kissed  me  on  the  mouth  for  this 
kindness  ;  Alcibiades  enclosed  my  hand  in  his  huge  one  and 
shook  my  arm  so  violently  that  he  nearly  dislocated  my  shoulder, 
made  my  rings  oval  instead  of  round,  and  cut  three  of  my  fingers 
somewhat  deeply. 

"  The  old  lady,  rejoicing,  took  an  immense  pinch  of  snuff. 

"  Rosette,  however,  did  not  completely  recover  her  gaiety  ; 
the  idea  that  I  might  go  away  and  that  I  wished  to  do  so,  an 
idea  which  had  never  yet  come  clearly  before  her  mind,  plunged 
her  deep  in  thought.  The  colour  which  had  been  chased  from 
her  cheeks  by  the  announcement  of  my  departure  did  no> 
return  to  them  with  the  same  brilliance  as  before ;  there  stili 
was  paleness  on  her  cheek  and  disquiet  in  the  depths  of  her  soul 
My  conduct  towards  her  surprised  her  more  and  more.  After 
the  marked  advances  which  she  had  made,  she  could  not  under- 
stand the  motives  which  induced  me  to  put  so  much  restraint 
into  my  relations  with  her  j  her  object  was  to  lead  me  up  to  a 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  297 

perfectly  decisive  engagement  before  my  departure,  not  doubting 
that  afterwards  she  would  find  it  extremely  easy  to  keep  me  as 
long  as  she  liked. 

"In  this  she  was  right,  and,  had  I  not  been  a  woman,  her 
calculation  would  have  been  correct ;  for,  whatever  may  have 
been  said  about  the  satiety  of  pleasure  and  the  distaste  which 
commonly  follows  possession,  every  man  whose  heart  is  at  all 
in  the  right  place,  and  who  is  not  miserably  used  up  and 
without  resource,  feels  his  love  increased  by  his  good  fortune, 
and  frequently  the  best  means  of  retaining  a  lover  who  is  ready 
to  leave  you  is  to  surrender  yourself  unreservedly  to  him. 

"  Rosette  intended  to  bring  me  to  something  decisive  before 
my  departure.  Knowing  how  difficult  it  is  to  subsequently  take 
up  a  liaison  just  where  it  had  been  dropped,  and  being  besides  not 
at  all  sure  of  finding  me  again  under  such  favourable  circum- 
stances, she  neglected  no  opportunity  that  presented  itself  of 
placing  me  in  a  position  to  speak  out  clearly  and  abandon  the 
evasive  demeanour  behind  which  I  had  entrenched  myself.  As 
on  my  part,  I  had  the  most  formal  intention  of  avoiding  every 
species  of  meeting  similar  to  that  in  the  rustic  pavilion,  and  yet 
could  not,  without  being  ridiculous,  affect  much  coolness 
towards  Rosette  and  assume  girlish  prudery  in  my  relations 
with  her,  I  scarcely  knew  how  to  behave,  and  tried  always  to 
have  a  third  person  with  us. 

"  Rosette,  on  the  contrary,  did  everything  in  her  power  to 
secure  being  alone  with  me,  and,  as  the  mansion  was  at  a 
distance  from  the  town  and  seldom  visited  by  the  neighbouring 
nobility,  she  frequently  succeeded  in  her  design.  My  obtuse 
resistance  saddened  and  surprised  her;  there  were  moments 
when  she  had  doubts  and  hesitations  about  the  power  of  her 
charms,  and,  seeing  herself  so  little  loved,  she  was  sometimes 
not  far  from  believing  herself  ugly.  Then  she  would  redouble 
her  attention  and  coquetry,  and  although  her  mourning  did  not 
permit  her  to  make  use  of  all  the  resources  of  the  toilet,  she 
nevertheless  knew  how  to  give  it  grace  and  variety  in  such  a 
manner  as  to  be  twice  or  thrice  as  charming  every  day — which 
is  saying  a  great  deal.  She  tried  everything  :  she  was  playful. 


298  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

melancholy,  tender,  impassioned,  kind,  coquettish,  and  even 
affected ;  she  put  on  in  succession  all  those  adorable  masks 
which  become  women  so  well  that  it  is  impossible  to  say 
whether  they  are  veritable  masks  or  real  faces  ; — she  assumed 
eight  or  ten  contrasted  individualities  one  after  another  in  order 
to  see  which  pleased  me,  and  to  fix  upon  it.  In  herself  alone 
she  provided  me  with  a  complete  seraglio  wherein  I  had  only  to 
throw  the  handkerchief ;  but  she  had,  of  course,  no  success. 

"The  failure  of  all  these  stratagems  threw  her  into  a  state 
of  profound  stupefaction.  She  would,  indeed,  have  turned 
Nestor's  brain,  and  melted  the  ice  of  the  chaste  Hippolytus 
himself,  —  and  I  appeared  to  be  anything  but  Nestor  or 
Hippolytus.  I  am  young,  and  I  had  a  lofty  and  determined 
air,  boldness  of  speech,  and  everywhere  except  in  solitary 
interviews,  a  resolute  countenance. 

"  She  might  have  thought  that  all  the  witches  of  Thrace  and 
Thessaly  had  cast  their  spells  upon  my  person,  or  that  I  was  at 
least  unmanned,  and  have  formed  a  most  detestable  opinion  of 
my  virility,  which  is  in  fact  poor  enough.  Apparently,  however, 
the  idea  did  not  occur  to  her,  and  she  attributed  this  singular 
reserve  only  to  my  lack  of  love  for  her. 

"The  days  passed  away  without  any  advancement  of  her 
interests,  and  she  was  visibly  affected  by  it :  an  expression  of 
restless  sadness  had  taken  the  place  of  the  ever  fresh-blooming 
smile  on  her  lips ;  the  corners  ot  her  mouth,  so  joyously  arched, 
had  become  sensibly  lower,  and  formed  a  firm  and  serious  line ; 
a  few  little  veins  appeared  in  a  more  marked  fashion  on  her 
tender  eyelids ;  her  cheeks,  lately  so  like  the  peach,  had  now 
nothing  of  it  left  save  its  imperceptible  velvet  down.  I  often 
saw  her,  from  my  window,  crossing  the  garden  in  a  morning 
gown ;  scarcely  raising  her  feet,  she  would  walk  as  though  she 
were  gliding  along,  both  arms  loosely  crossed  upon  her  breast, 
her  head  bent  more  than  a  willow-branch  dipping  into  the  water, 
and  with  something  undulating  and  sinking  about  her  like  a 
drapery  which  is  too  long  and  the  edge  of  which  touches  the 
ground.  At  such  moments  she  looked  like  one  of  the  amorous 
women  of  antiquity,  victims  to  the  wrath  of  Venus,  and  furiously 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  299 

assailed  by  the  pitiless  goddess ;  it  is  thus,  to  my  fancy,  that 
Psyche  must  have  been  when  she  had  lost  Cupid. 

"  On  the  days  when  she  did  not  endeavour  to  vanquish  my 
coldness  and  reluctance,  her  love  had  a  simple  and  primitive 
manner  which  might  have  charmed  me;  it  was  a  silent  and 
confiding  surrender,  a  chaste  facility  of  caress,  an  exhaustless 
abundance  and  plenitude  of  heart,  all  the  treasures  of  a  fine 
nature  poured  forth  without  reserve.  She  had  none  of  that 
bitterness  and  meanness  to  be  seen  in  nearly  all  women,  even 
in  those  that  are  the  best  endowed;  she  sought  no  disguise, 
and  tranquilly  suffered  me  to  see  the  whole  extent  of  her  passion. 
Her  self-love  did  not  revolt  for  an  instant  at  my  failure  to 
respond  to  so  many  advances,  for  pride  leaves  the  heart  on  the 
day  that  love  enters  it ;  and  if  ever  anyone  was  truly  loved,  I 
was  loved  by  Rosette. 

"  She  suffered,  but  without  complaint  or  bitterness,  and  she 
attributed  the  failure  of  her  attempts  only  to  herself.  Never- 
theless her  paleness  increased  every  day ;  a  mighty  combat  had 
been  waged  on  the  battle-field  of  her  cheeks  between  the  lilies 
and  the  roses,  and  the  latter  had  been  decisively  routed ;  it 
distressed  me,  but  in  all  truth  I  was  less  able  than  anyone  to 
remedy  it.  The  more  gentle  and  affectionate  my  words  and 
the  more  caressing  my  manner,  the  more  deeply  I  plunged  into 
her  heart  the  barbed  arrow  of  impossible  love.  To  comfort  her 
to-day  I  made  ready  a  much  greater  despair  for  the  future ;  my 
remedies  poisoned  her  wound  while  appearing  to  soothe  it.  I 
repented  in  a  measure  of  all  the  agreeable  things  I  had  ever 
said  to  her,  and,  owing  to  my  extreme  friendship  for  her,  I 
would  fain  have  discovered  the  means  to  make  her  hate  me. 
Disinterestedness  could  not  be  carried  further,  for  such  a  result 
would  unquestionably  have  greatly  grieved  me; — but  it  would 
have  been  better. 

"  I  made  two  or  three  attempts  to  speak  harshly  to  her,  but 
I  soon  returned  to  madrigals,  for  I  dread  her  tears  even  more 
than  her  smile.  On  such  occasions,  although  the  honesty  of  my 
intention  fully  acquitted  me  in  my  conscience,  I  was  more 
touched  than  I  should  have  been,  and  felt  something  not  far 


300  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUP1N. 

removed  from  remorse.  A  tear  can  scarcely  be  dried  except 
by  a  kiss  ;  the  office  cannot  decently  be  left  to  a  handkerchief, 
be  it  of  the  finest  cambric  in  the  world.  I  undid  what  I  had 
done,  the  tear  was  quickly  forgotten,  more  quickly  than  the 
kiss,  and  there  always  ensued  an  increase  of  embarrassment 
for  me. 

"  Rosette,  seeing  that  I  am  going  to  escape  her,  again  fastens 
obstinately  and  miserably  upon  the  remnants  of  her  hope,  and 
my  position  is  growing  more  and  more  complicated.  The 
strange  sensation  which  I  experienced  in  the  little  hermitage, 
and  the  inconceivable  confusion  into  which  I  was  thrown  by  the 
ardent  caresses  of  my  fair  mistress,  have  been  several  times 
renewed  though  with  less  violence;  and  often  when  seated 
beside  Rosette  with  her  hand  in  mine,  and  listening  to  her  speak 
to  me  in  her  soft  cooing  voice,  I  fancy  that  I  am  a  man  as  she 
believes  me  to  be,  and  that  it  is  pure  cruelty  on  my  part  not  to 
respond  to  her  love. 

"  One  evening,  by  some  chance  or  other,  I  happened  to  be 
alone  with  the  old  lady  in  the  green  room; — she  had  some 
tapestry  work  in  her  hand,  for,  in  spite  of  her  sixty-eight  years, 
she  never  remained  idle,  wishing,  as  she  said,  to  finish  before 
she  died  a  task  which  she  had  commenced  and  at  which  she 
had  now  wrought  for  a  long  time.  Feeling  somewhat  fatigued, 
she  laid  her  work  aside  and  lay  back  in  her  large  easy  chair. 
She  looked  at  me  very  attentively,  and  her  grey  eyes  sparkled 
through  her  spectacles  with  strange  vivacity;  she  passed  her 
hand  two  or  three  times  across  her  wrinkled  forehead,  and 
appeared  to  be  reflecting  deeply.  The  recollection  of  times  that 
were  no  more  and  that  she  regretted  imparted  an  expression  of 
emotion  to  her  face.  I  did  not  speak  lest  I  should  disturb  her 
in  her  thoughts,  and  the  silence  lasted  for  some  minutes.  At 
last  she  broke  it. 

"'They  are  Henri's — my  dear  Henri's  very  eyes  ;  the  same 
humid  and  brilliant  gaze,  the  same  carriage  of  the  head,  the 
same  sweet  and  proud  physiognomy  ;  one  would  think  it  were 
he.  You  cannot  imagine  the  extent  of  this  likeness,  Monsieur 
The'odore :  when  I  see  you  I  cannot  believe  that  Henri  is 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  301 

dead  ;  I  think  that  he  has  only  been  on  a  long  journey,  and 
has  now  at  last  come  back.  You  have  given  me  much  pleasure 
and  much  pain,  Theodore  :  pleasure  by  reminding  me  of  my 
ooor  Henri,  and  pain  by  showing  me  how  great  has  been  my 
loss ;  sometimes  I  have  taken  you  for  his  phantom.  I  cannot 
reconcile  myself  to  the  idea  that  you  are  going  to  leave  us ;  it 
seems  to  me  like  losing  my  Henri  once  more.' 

"  I  told  her  that  if  it  were  really  possible  for  me  to  remain 
longer  I  should  do  so  with  pleasure,  but  that  my  stay  had 
already  been  prolonged  far  beyond  the  limits  it  should  have 
had :  besides,  I  quite  expected  to  return,  and  I  should  retain 
memories  of  the  mansion  far  too  agreeable  to  forget  it  so  quickly. 

" '  However  sorry  I  may  be  at  your  departure,  Monsieur 
Theodore,'  she  resumed,  pursuing  her  own  train  of  thought, 
'  there  is  some  one  here  who  will  feel  it  more  than  I.  You 
understand  whom  I  mean  without  my  telling  you.  I  do  not 
know  what  we  shall  do  with  Rosette  when  you  are  gone ;  but 
this  old  place  is  very  dull.  Alcibiades  is  always  hunting,  and 
for  a  young  girl  like  her,  the  society  of  a  poor  infirm  woman 
like  me  is  not  very  diverting.' 

"'  If  anyone  should  have  regrets,  it  is  not  you,  madame,  nor 
Rosette,  but  I ;  you  are  losing  little,  I  much ;  you  will  easily 
discover  society  more  charming  than  mine,  but  it  is  more  than 
doubtful  whether  I  shall  ever  be  able  to  replace  Rosette's  and 
yours.' 

"  '  I  do  not  wish  to  pick  a  quarrel  with  your  modesty,  my 
dear  sir,  but  I  know  what  I  know,  and  what  I  say  is  fact.  It 
will  probrbly  be  a  long  time  before  we  see  Madame  Rosette  in 
a  good  humour  again,  for  at  present  her  smiles  and  tears  depend 
only  on  you.  Her  mourning  is  about  to  end,  and  it  would  be  a 
pity  if  she  laid  aside  her  gaiety  with  her  last  black  dress  ;  it 
would  be  a  very  bad  example,  and  quite  contrary  to  natural  laws. 
This  is  a  thing  which  you  could  prevent  without  much  trouble, 
and  which  you  will  prevent,  no  doubt,'  said  the  old  lady,  laying 
great  emphasis  on  the  last  words. 

"  '  Unquestionably  I  will  do  all  in  my  power  that  yuur  dear 
niece  may  not  lose  her  charming  gaiety,  since  you  suppose  me  to 


302  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

have  such  influence  over  her.  Nevertheless,  I  scarcely  see  what 
method  I  can  adopt.' 

"  '  Oh  !  really,  you  scarcely  see  !  What  are  your  handsome 
eyes  for?  I  did  not  know  that  you  were  so  short-sighted. 
Rosette  is  free ;  she  has  an  income  of  eighty  thousand  livres 
wholly  under  her  own  control,  and  women  twice  as  ugly  as 
she  is,  are  often  considered  pretty.  You  are  young,  handsome, 
and,  as  I  imagine,  unmarried  ;  it  appears  to  me  to  be  the 
simplest  thing  in  the  world,  unless  you  have  an  unsurmountable 
horror  of  Rosette,  which  it  is  difficult  to  believe ' 

" '  Which  is  not  and  could  not  be  the  case,  for  her  soul  is  as 
excellent  as  her  person,  and  she  is  one  of  those  who  might  be 
ugly  without  our  noticing  it  or  wishing  them  otherwise ' 

"'She  might  be  ugly  with  impunity  and  she  is  charming. 
That  is  to  be  doubly  in  the  right ;  I  have  no  doubt  of  what  you 
say.  but  she  has  taken  the  wisest  course.  So  far  as  she  is  con- 
cerned I  would  willingly  answer  for  it  that  there  are  a  thousand 
whom  she  hates  more  than  you,  and  that  if  she  were  asked 
several  times  she  would  perhaps  end  by  confessing  that  you  do 
not  altogether  displease  her.  You  have  a  ring  on  your  finger 
which  would  suit  her  perfectly,  for  your  hand  is  nearly  as  small 
as  hers,  and  I  am  almost  sure  that  she  would  accept  it  with 
pleasure.' 

"  The  good  lady  stopped  for  a  few  moments  to  see  what  effect 
her  words  would  produce  on  me,  and  I  do  not  know  whether 
she  had  reason  to  be  satisfied  with  the  expression  of  my  face. 
I  was  cruelly  embarrassed  and  did  not  know  what  to  reply. 
From  the  beginning  of  the  conversation  I  had  perceived  the  ten- 
dency of  all  her  insinuations ;  and,  although  I  almost  expected 
what  she  had  just  said,  I  was  quite  surprised  and  confused  by 
it ;  I  could  not  but  refuse  ;  but  what  valid  motives  could  I  give 
for  such  a  refusal?  I  had  none,  except  that  I  was  a  woman  : 
an  excellent  motive  it  is  true,  but  precisely  the  only  one  that  I 
was  unwilling  to  state. 

"  I  could  hardly  fall  back  upon  stern  and  ridiculous  parents ; 
all  the  parents  in  the  world  would  have  accepted  such  a  union 
with  enthusiasm.  Had  Rosette  not  been  what  she  was,  good. 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  303 

fair,  and  well-born,  the  eighty  thousand  livres  a  year  would  have 
removed  all  difficulty.  To  say  that  I  did  not  love  her  would 
have  been  neither  true  nor  honourable,  for  I  did  really  love  her 
very  much  and  more  than  any  woman  loves  a  woman.  I  was  too 
young  to  pretend  that  I  was  engaged  in  another  quarter.  What 
I  thought  it  best  to  do  was  to  let  it  be  understood  that  being  a 
younger  son  the  interests  of  my  house  required  me  to  enter  the 
Maltese  Order,  and  did  not  permit  to  think  of  matrimony,  a 
circumstance  which  had  caused  me  all  the  sorrow  in  the  world 
since  I  had  seen  Rosette. 

"  This  reply  was  not  worth  much,  and  I  was  perfectly  sensible 
of  the  fact.  The  old  lady  was  not  deceived  by  it,  and  did  not 
regard  it  as  definite  ;  she  thought  that  I  had  spoken  in  this  way 
to  gain  time  for  reflection  and  for  consulting  my  parents. 
Indeed,  such  a  union  was  so  advantageous  for  me,  and  one  so 
little  to  be  expected,  that  it  would  not  have  been  possible  for  me 
to  refuse  it  even  though  I  had  felt  little  or  no  love  for  Rosette ; 
it  was  a  piece  of  good  fortune  that  was  not  to  be  slighted. 

"  I  do  not  know  whether  the  aunt  made  this  overture  at  the 
instance  of  her  niece,  but  I  am  inclined  to  believe  that  Rosette 
had  nothing  to  do  with  it :  she  loved  me  too  simply  and  too 
eagerly  to  think  of  anything  else  but  the  immediate  possession 
of  me,  and  marriage  would  assuredly  have  been  the  last  of  the 
means  that  she  would  have  employed.  The  dowager,  who  had 
not  failed  to  remark  our  intimacy,  and  doubtless  thought  it 
much  greater  than  it  was,  had  contrived  the  whole  of  this  plan 
in  her  head  in  order  to  keep  me  near  her,  and  as  far  as  possible 
replace  her  dear  son  Henri,  who  had  been  killed  in  the  army, 
and  to  whom,  as  she  considered,  I  bear  so  striking  a  likeness. 
She  had  been  pleased  by  this  idea  and  had  taken  advantage  of 
the  moment  of  solitude  to  come  to  an  explanation  with  me.  I 
saw  by  her  mien  that  she  did  not  look  upon  herself  as  beaten, 
and  that  she  intended  to  return  soon  to  the  charge; — at  which  I 
felt  extremely  annoyed. 

"  That  same  night  Rosette,  on  her  part,  made  a  last  attempt 
which  had  such  serious  results  that  I  must  give  you  a  separate 
account  of  it,  and  cannot  relate  it  in  this  letter  which  is  already 


304 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 


swelled  to  an  extravagant  size.  You  will  see  to  what  singular 
adventures  I  was  predestined,  and  how  heaven  had  cut  me  out 
beforehand  to  be  a  heroine  of  romance ;  I  am  not  quite  sure, 
though,  what  moral  could  be  drawn  from  it  all, — but  existences 
are  not  like  fables,  each  chapter  has  not  a  rhymed  sentence  at 
the  end.  Very  often  the  meaning  of  life  is  that  it  is  not  death. 
That  is  all.  Good-bye,  dear,  I  kiss  you  on  your  lovely  eyes. 
You  will  shortly  receive  the  continuation  of  my  triumphant 
biography." 


XIII. 


HEODORE,— Rosalind, —for  I  know  not  by 
what  name  to  call  you  .---I  have  only  just  seen  you 
and  I  am  writing  to  you. — Would  that  I  knew 
yourwoman's  name!  it  must  be  pleasant  as  honey, 
and  hover  sweeter  and  more  harmonious  than  poetry  on 
the  lips  !  Never  could  I  have  dared  to  tell  you  this,  and 
yet  I  should  have  died  for  lack  of  saying  it.  What  I  have 
suffered  no  one  knows  nor  can  know,  nor  could  I  myself  give 
any  but  a  faint  idea  of  it ;  words  will  not  express  such  anguish  ; 
I  should  appear  to  have  turned  my  phrases  carefully,  to  have 
striven  to  say  new  and  singular  things,  and  to  be  indulging  in 
the  most  extravagant  exaggeration  when  merely  depicting  what 
I  have  experienced  with  the  help  of  unsatisfying  images. 

"  O  Rosalind  !  I  love  you,  I  worship  you  ;  why  is  there  not 
a  word  more  expressive  than  that !  I  have  never  loved,  I  have 
never  worshipped  any  one  save  you ;  I  prostrate  myself,  I  humble 
myself  before  you,  and  I  would  fain  compel  all  creation  to 
bend  the  knee  before  my  idol ;  you  are  more  to  me  than  the 
whole  of  nature,  more  than  myself,  more  than  God, — nay,  it 
seems  strange  to  me  that  God  does  not  descend  from  heaven 
to  become  your  slave.  Where  you  are  not  all  is  desolate,  all  is 
dead,  all  is  dark ;  you  alone  people  the  world  for  me  ;  you  are 
life,  sunshine — you  are  everything.  Your  smile  makes  the  day, 
and  your  sadness  the  night ;  the  spheres  follow  the  movements  of 
of  your  body,  and  the  celestial  harmonies  are  guided  by  you,  O  my 
cherished  queen  !  O  my  glorious  and  real  dream !  You  are  clothed 
with  splendour,  and  swim  ceaselessly  in  radiant  effluence. 


306  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

"  I  have  known  you  scarcely  three  months,  but  I  have  long 
loved  you.  Before  seeing  you,  I  languished  for  love  of  you  ;  I 
called  you,  sought  for  you,  and  despaired  of  ever  meeting  with 
you  in  my  path,  for  I  knew  that  I  could  never  love  any  other 
woman.  How  many  times  have  you  appeared  to  me, — at  the 
window  of  the  mysterious  mansion  leaning  in  melancholy 
fashion  on  your  elbow  in  the  balcony  and  casting  the  petals  of 
some  flower  to  the  wind,  or  else  a  petulant  Amazon  on  your 
Turkish  horse,  whiter  than  snow,  galloping  through  the  dark 
avenues  of  the  forest !  It  was  indeed  your  proud  and  gentle 
eyes,  your  diaphanous  hands,  your  beautiful  waving  hair,  and 
your  faint,  adorably  disdainful  smile.  Only  you  were  less 
beautiful,  for  the  most  ardent  and  unbridled  imagination,  the 
imagination  of  a  painter  and  a  poet,  could  not  attain  to  the 
sublime  poetry  of  this  reality. 

"  There  is  in  you  an  exhaustless  spring  of  graces,  an  ever- 
gushing  fountain  of  irresisistible  seductions :  you  are  an  ever 
open  casket  of  most  precious  pearls,  and,  in  your  slightest 
movements,  in  your  most  forgetful  gestures,  in  your  most  un- 
studied attitudes,  you  every  moment  throw  away  with  royal  pro- 
fusion inestimable  treasures  of  beauty.  If  the  soft  waving 
contour,  if  the  fleeting  lines  of  an  attitude  could  be  fixed  and 
preserved  in  a  mirror,  the  glasses  before  which  you  had  passed 
would  cause  Raphael's  divinest  canvases  to  be  despised  and 
be  looked  upon  as  tavern  sign-boards. 

"  Every  gesUire;  every  pose  of  your  head,  every  different  aspect 
of  your  beauty,  are  graven  with  a  diamond  point  upon  the 
mirror  of  my  soul,  and  nothi/i-?  in  the  world  could  efface  the 
deep  impression ;  I  know  in  what  place  the  shadow  was,  and 
in  what  the  light,  the  flat  part,  glistening  beneath  the  ray,  and 
the  spot  where  the  wandering  reflection  was  blended  with  the 
more  softened  tints  of  neck  and  cheek.  I  could  draw  you  in 
your  absence ;  the  idea  of  you  is  ever  placed  before  me. 

"  When  quite  a  child  I  would  remain  whole  hours  standing 
before  the  old  pictures  of  the  masters,  and  eagerly  explore  their 
dark  depths.  I  gazed  upon  those  beautiful  faces  of  saints  and 
goddesses  whose  flesh,  white  as  ivory  or  wax,  stands  out  so 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  307 

marvellously  against  the  obscure  backgrounds  that  are  carbonised 
by  the  decomposition  of  the  colours  ;  I  admired  the  simplicity 
and  magnificence  of  their  shape,  the  strange  grace  of  their  hands 
and  feet,  the  pride  and  fine  expression  of  their  features  which 
are  at  once  so  delicate  and  firm,  the  grandeur  of  the  draperies 
which  flutter  around  their  divine  forms,  and  the  purplish  folds 
of  which  seem  to  extend  like  lips  to  kiss  those  beauteous  bodies. 

"From  obstinately  burying  my  eyes  beneath  the  veil  of 
smoke  thickened  by  ages,  my  sight  grew  dim,  the  outlines 
of  objects  lost  their  precision,  and  a  species  of  motionless  and 
dead  life  animated  all  those  pale  phantoms  of  vanished  beauties  ; 
I  ended  by  finding  that  these  faces  had  a  vague  resemblance  to 
the  fair  unknown  whom  I  worshipped  at  the  bottom  of  my 
heart ;  I  sighed  as  I  thought  that  she  whom  I  was  to  love  was 
perhaps  one  of  them,  and  had  been  dead  for  three  hundred 
years.  This  idea  often  affected  me  so  far  as  to  make  me  shed 
tears,  and  I  would  indulge  in  great  anger  against  myself  for  not 
having  been  born  in  the  sixteenth  century,  when  all  these  fair 
ones  had  lived.  I  thought  it  unpardonable  awkwardness  and 
clumsiness  on  my  part 

"  When  I  grew  older  the  sweet  phantom  beset  me  still  more 
closely.  I  continually  saw  it  between  me  and  the  women  whom 
I  had  for  mistresses,  smiling  with  an  ironic  air  and  deriding 
their  human  beauty  with  all  the  perfection  of  its  own  which  was 
divine.  It  caused  me  to  find  ugliness  in  women  who  really 
were  charming  and  capable  of  giving  happiness  to  any  one  who 
had  not  become  enamoured  of  this  adorable  shadow  whose 
body  I  did  not  think  existed  and  which  was  only  the  presenti. 
ment  of  your  own  beauty.  O  Rosalind !  how  unhappy  have  I 
been  on  your  account,  before  I  knew  you !  O  Theodore  !  how 
unhappy  I  have  been  on  your  account,  after  I  knew  you  !  If  you 
will,  you  can  open  up  to  .me  the  paradise  of  my  dreams.  You 
are  standing  on  the  threshold  like  a  guardian  angel  wrapped  in 
his  wings,  and  you  hold  the  golden  key  in  your  beautiful  hands. 
Say,  Rosalind,  say,  will  you  ? 

"  I  wait  for  but  a  word  from  you  to  live  or  to  die — will  you 
pronounce  it  ? 


308  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

"  Are  you  Apollo  driven  from  heaven,  or  the  fair  Aphrodite 
coming  forth  from  the  bosom  of  the  sea  ?  where  have  you  left 
your  chariot  of  gems  yoked  with  its  four  flaming  steeds  ?  what 
have  you  done  with  your  nacreous  conch  and  your  azure-tailed 
dolphins  ?  what  amorous  nymph  has  blended  her  body  with 
yours  in  the  midst  of  a  kiss,  O  handsome  youth,  more  charming 
than  Cyparissus  and  Adonis,  more  adorable  than  all  women  ? 

"  But  you  are  a  woman,  and  we  are  no  longer  in  the  days  of 
metamorphoses;  Adonis  and  Hermaphrodite  are  dead,  and 
such  a  degree  of  beauty  can  no  longer  be  attained  by  man ; — 
for,  since  heroes  and  gods  have  ceased  to  be,  you  alone  preserve 
in  your  marble  bodies,  as  in  a  Grecian  temple,  the  precious  gift 
of  form  anathematized  by  Christ,  and  show  that  the  earth 
has  no  cause  to  envy  heaven ;  you  worthily  represent  the  first 
divinity  of  the  world,  the  purest  symbolisation  of  the  eternal 
essence, — beauty. 

"  As  soon  as  I  saw  you  something  was  rent  within  me,  a  veil 
fell,  a  door  was  opened,  I  felt  myself  inwardly  flooded  by  waves 
of  light ;  I  understood  that  my  life  was  before  me,  and  that  I 
had  at  last  arrived  at  the  decisive  crossway.  The  dark  and 
hidden  portions  of  the  half  radiant  figure  which  I  was  seeking 
to  separate  from  the  shadow  were  suddenly  illuminated ;  the 
browner  tints  drowning  the  background  of  the  picture  were 
softly  lighted  ;  a  tender  roseate  gleam  crept  over  the  greenish 
ultramarine  of  the  distance ;  the  trees  which  had  formed  only 
confused  silhouettes  began  to  be  more  clearly  defined ;  the 
dew-laden  flowers  dotted  with  brilliant  specks  the  dull  verdure 
of  the  turf.  I  saw  the  bull-finch  with  his  scarlet  breast  at  the 
end  of  an  elder  bough,  the  little  white  pink-eyed  straight-eared 
rabbit  putting  out  his  head  between  two  sprays  of  wild  thyme 
and  passing  his  paw  across  his  nose,  and  the  fearful  stag 
coming  to  drink  at  the  spring  and  admire  his  antlers  in  the 
water. 

"  From  the  morning  when  the  sun  of  love  rose  upon  my  life 
everything  has  been  changed ;  there,  when:  in  the  shadow  used  to 
wander  ill-defined  forms  rendered  terrible  or  monstrous  by  their 
uncertainty,  groups  of  flowering  trees  show  themselves  with  ele 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  309 

gance,  hills  curve  in  graceful  amphitheatres,  and  silver  palaces, 
their  terraces  laden  with  vases  and  statues,  bathe  their  feet  in 
azure  lakes  and  seem  to  float  between  two  skies ;  what  in  the 
darkness  I  took  for  a  gigantic  dragon  having  wings  armed  with 
claws  and  crawling  over  the  night  with  its  scaly  feet,  is  nothing 
but  a  felucca  with  silken  sail,  and  painted  and  gilded  oars,  filled 
with  women  and  musicians,  and  that  frightful  crab  which 
methought  was  shaking  its  fangs  and  claws  above  my  head,  is 
nothing  but  a  fan-palm  whose  long  and  narrow  leaves  were 
stirred  by  the  nocturnal  breeze.  My  chimeras  and  my  errors 
have  vanished  : — I  love. 

"  Despairing  of  ever  finding  you  I  accused  my  dream  of  a  lie 
and  quarrelled  furiously  with  fate  :  I  told  myself  that  I  was  alto- 
gether mad  to  seek  for  such  a  type,  or  that  nature  was  very  barren 
and  the  Creator  very  unskilful  to  be  unable  to  realise  the  simple 
idea  of  my  heart  Prometheus  had  the  noble  pride  to  desire  to 
make  a  man  and  rival  God ;  I  had  created  a  woman,  and  I  believed 
that,  as  a  punishment  for  my  audacity,  a  never  satisfied  desire 
would  gnaw  my  liver  like  a  second  vulture ;  I  was  expecting  to 
be  chained  with  diamond  fetters  on  a  hoary  rock  at  the  edge  of 
the  savage  ocean, — but  the  fair  marine  nymphs  with  their  long 
green  hair,  raising  their  white  pointed  breasts  above  the 
waves,  and  displaying  to  the  sun  their  nacreous  bodies  all 
streaming  with  the  tears  of  the  sea,  would  not  have  come  and 
leaned  their  elbows  on  the  shore  to  converse  with  me  and  con- 
sole me  in  my  pain  as  in  the  play  of  old  ^schylus. 

"  There  has  been  nothing  of  all  this. 

"  You  came,  and  I  had  reason  to  reproach  my  imagination 
with  its  impotence.  My  torment  was  not  what  I  dreaded,  to 
be  the  perpetual  prey  of  an  idea  on  a  sterile  rock ;  but  I 
suffered  none  the  less.  I  had  seen  that  you  did  in  fact  exist 
that  my  presentiments  had  not  been  false  to  me  on  this  point  • 
but  you  manifested  yourself  to  me  with  the  ambiguous  and 
terrible  beauty  of  the  sphinx.  Like  the  mysterious  goddess, 
Isis,  you  were  wrapped  in  a  veil  which  I  dared  not  raise  lest  I 
should  be  stricken  dead. 

"  If  you  knew  with  what  panting  and  restless  heed,  beneath 


3io  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

my  apparent  inattention,  I  watched  you  and  followed  you  even 
in  your  slightest  movements !  Nothing  escaped  me ;  how 
eagerly  I  gazed  upon  the  little  flesh  that  appeared  at  your  neck 
or  wrist  in  my  endeavour  to  determine  your  sex !  your  hands 
have  been  the  subject  of  profound  studies  by  me,  and  I  am 
able  to  say  that  I  know  their  smallest  curves,  their  most  imper- 
ceptible veins,  and  their  slightest  dimple ;  though  you  were  to 
conceal  yourself  from  head  to  foot  in  the  most  impenetrable 
domino,  I  should  recognise  you  on  seeing  merely  one  of  your 
fingers.  I  analysed  the  undulations  in  your  walk,  the  manner  in 
which  you  placed  your  feet,  and  dressed  your  hair ;  I  sought  to 
discover  your  secret  in  the  habits  of  your  body.  I  especially 
watched  you  in  those  hours  of  indolence  when  the  bones  seem 
to  be  withdrawn  from  the  body  and  the  limbs  sink  and  bend  as 
though  they  had  lost  their  stiffness,  to  see  whether  the  feminine 
line  would  be  more  boldly  pronounced  amid  this  forgetfulness 
and  carelessness.  Never  was  anyone  eyed  so  eagerly  as  you. 

"For  whole  hours  I  would  forget  myself  in  this  contempla- 
tion. Apart  in  some  corner  of  the  drawing-room,  with  a  book 
in  my  hand  which  I  was  not  reading,  or  crouched  behind  the 
curtain  in  my  room,  when  you  were  in  yours  and  your  window- 
blinds  were  raised,  then,  penetrated  with  the  maivellous  beauty 
which  is  diffused  about  you  like  a  luminous  atmosphere,  I 
would  say  to  myself,  '  Surely  it  is  a  woman  ; ' — then  suddenly 
an  abrupt  bold  movement,  a  manly  accent  or  an  off-hand 
manner  would  in  a  minute  destroy  my  frail  edifice  of  probabili- 
ties and  throw  me  back  again  into  my  former  irresolution. 

"  I  would  be  voyaging  with  flowing  sails  over  the  limitless 
ocean  of  amorous  dreaming,  and  you  would  come  and  ask  me 
to  fence  or  play  tennis  with  you  ;  the  young  girl,  transformed 
into  a  young  cavalier,  would  give  me  terrible  blows  and  strike 
the  foil  from  my  hand  as  quickly  and  cleverly  as  the  most 
experienced  swashbuckler ;  at  every  moment  of  the  day  there 
was  some  such  disappointment. 

"  I  would  be  about  to  approach  you  and  say  to  you,  '  My 
dear  fair  one,  'tis  you  that  I  adore,'  and  I  would  see  you  bending 
down  tenderly  to  a  lady's  ear  and  breathing  puffs  of  madrigals 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  311 

and  compliments  through  her  hair.  Judge  of  my  situation. 
Or,  perhaps,  some  woman  whom,  in  my  strange  jealousy,  I 
could  have  flayed  alive  with  all  the  voluptuousness  in  the 
world,  would  hang  on  your  arm,  and  draw  you  aside  to  confide 
some  puerile  secrets  to  you,  and  would  keep  you  for  hours 
together  in  an  embrasure  of  the  window. 

"  I  was  maddened  to  see  women  talking  to  you,  for  it  made 
me  believe  that  you  were  a  man,  and,  had  you  been  so,  it  would 
have  cost  me  extreme  pain  to  endure  it.  When  men  came  up 
in  a  free  and  familiar  fashion,  I  was  still  more  jealous,  because 
then  I  thought  that  you  were  a  woman  and  that  they  had  a 
suspicion  of  it  like  myself;  I  was  a  prey  to  the  most  contrary 
passions  and  did  not  know  what  conclusion  to  arrrive  at. 

"  I  was  angry  with  myself,  and  addressed  the  harshest  re- 
proaches to  myself  for  being  thus  tormented  by  such  a  love  and 
for  not  having  the  strength  to  uproot  from  my  heart  the  veno- 
mous plant  which  had  sprung  up  there  in  a  night  like  a  poisonous 
toad-stool ;  I  cursed  you,  I  called  you  my  evil  genius ;  I  even 
believed  for  a  moment  that  you  were  Beelzebub  in  person,  for 
I  could  not  explain  the  sensation  which  I  experienced  in  your 
presence. 

"When  I  was  quite  persuaded  that  you  were  in  fact  nothing 
else  but  a  woman  in  disguise,  the  improbability  of  the  motives 
with  which  I  sought  to  justify  such  a  caprice  plunged  me  again 
into  my  uncertainty,  and  I  began  again  to  lament  that  the  form 
which  I  had  dreamed  of  for  the  love  of  my  soul  belonged  to 
one  of  the  same  sex  as  myself; — I  accused  chance  which  had 
clothed  a  man  with  such  charming  appearance,  and,  to  my 
everlasting  misfortune,  had  caused  me  to  meet  with  him  just 
when  I  had  lost  the  hope  of  seeing  realised  the  absolute  idea 
of  pure  beauty  which  I  had  cherished  in  my  heart  for  so  long. 

"Now,  Rosalind,  I  have  the  profound  certainty  that  you  are 
the  most  beautiful  of  women ;  I  have  seen  you  in  the  costume 
of  your  sex,  I  have  seen  your  pure  and  correctly  rounded  shoulders 
and  arms.  The  beginning  of  your  bosom,  of  which  your  gorget 
gave  a  glimpse,  could  belong  only  to  a  young  girl :  neither  the 
beautiful  hunter  Meleager,nor  the  effeminate  Bacchus,  with  their 


JI2  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

dubious  forms,  ever  had  such  sweetness  of  line  or  such  delicacy 
of  skin,  even  though  they  be  both  of  Paros  marble  and  polished 
by  the  kisses  of  twenty  centuries.  I  am  tormented  no  longer 
in  this  respect.  But  this  is  not  all:  you  are  a  woman,  and 
my  love  is  no  longer  reprehensible,  I  may  give  myself  up  to  it 
without  remorse  and  abandon  myself  to  the  billow  which  is 
bearing  me  towards  you ;  great  and  unbridled  as  the  passion 
that  I  feel  may  be,  it  is  permitted  and  I  may  confess  it ;  but  you, 
Rosalind,  for  whom  I  was  consumed  in  silence  and  who  knew 
not  the  immensity  of  my  love,  you  whom  this  tardy  revelation 
will  only,  it  may  be,  surprise,  do  you  not  hate  me,  do  you  love 
me,  can  you  ever  love  me  ?  I  do  not  know, — and  I  tremble, 
and  am  yet  more  unhappy  than  before. 

"  There  are  moments  when  it  seems  to  me  that  you  do  not 
hate  me  ;  when  we  acted  '  As  you  like  it,'  you  gave  a  peculiar 
accent  to  certain  passages  in  your  part  which  strengthened 
their  meaning,  and,  in  a  measure,  invited  me  to  declare 
myself.  I  believed  that  I  could  see  in  your  eyes  and  smile 
gracious  promises  of  indulgence,  and  could  feel  your  hand 
respond  to  the  pressure  of  mine.  If  I  was  deceived,  O  God  ! 
it  is  a  thing  on  which  I  dare  not  reflect.  Encouraged  by  all 
this  and  impelled  by  my  love,  1  have  written  to  you,  for  the 
dress  you  wear  is  ill-suited  to  such  avowals,  and  my  words  have 
a  thousand  times  been  stayed  upon  my  lips ;  even  though  I  had 
the  idea  and  firm  conviction  that  I  was  speaking  to  a  woman, 
that  manly  costume  would  startle  all  my  tender  loving  thoughts 
and  hinder  them  from  taking  their  flight  towards  you. 

"  I  beseech  you,  Rosalind,  if  you  do  not  yet  love  me,  strive  to 
love  me  who  have  loved  you  in  spite  of  everything,  and  beneath 
the  veil  in  which  you  wrap  yourself,  no  doubt  out  of  pity  for  us  ; 
do  not  devote  the  remainder  of  my  life  to  the  most  frightful 
despair  and  the  most  gloomy  discouragement;  think  that  1 
have  worshipped  you  ever  since  the  first  ray  of  thought  shone 
into  my  head,  that  you  were  revealed  to  me  beforehand,  and 
that,  when  I  was  quite  little,  you  appeared  to  me  in  my  dreams 
with  a  crown  of  dew-drops,  two  prismatic  wings,  and  the  little 
blue  flower  in  your  hand ;  that  you  are  the  end,  the  means,  and 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 


313 


the  meaning  of  my  life ;  that  without  you  I  am  but  an  empty 
shadow,  and  that,  if  you  blow  upon  the  flame  that  you  have 
kindled,  nothing  will  remain  within  me  but  a  pinch  of  dust 
finer  and  more  impalpable  than  that  which  besprinkles 
the  very  wings  of  death.  Rosalind,  you  who  have  so  many 
recipes  to  cure  the  sickness  of  love,  cure  me,  for  I  am  very  sick  ; 
play  your  part  to  the  end,  cast  aside  the  dress  of  the  handsome 
page  Ganymede,  and  stretch  out  your  white  hand  to  the  younger 
son  of  the  brave  knight  Rowland-des-Bois  " 


XIV. 


WAS  at  my  window  engaged  in  looking  at  the  stars 
which  were  blooming  joyously  in  the  gardens  of 
the  sky,  and  inhaling  the  perfume  of  the  Marvel 
of  Peru  wafted  to  me  by  an  expiring  breeze. 
The  wind  from  the  open  casement  had  extinguished  my  lamp, 
the  last  remaining  light  in  the  mansion.  My  thoughts  were 
degenerating  into  vague  dreaming,  and  a  sort  of  somnolence 
was  beginning  to  overtake  me ;  nevertheless,  whether  owing 
to  fascination  by  the  charm  of  the  night,  or  to  carelessnes  and 
forgetfulness,  I  still  remained  leaning  with  my  elbow  on  the  stone 
balustrade.  Rosette,  no  longer  seeing  the  light  of  my  lamp 
and  being  unable  to  distinguish  me  owing  to  a  great  corner 
of  shadow  which  fell  just  across  the  window,  had  no  doubt 
concluded  that  I  was  in  bed,  and  it  was  for  this  that  she 
was  waiting  in  order  to  risk  a  last  desperate  attempt.  She 
pushed  open  the  door  so  softly  that  I  did  not  hear  her  enter, 
and  was  within  two  steps  of  me  before  I  had  perceived  her.  She 
was  very  much  astonished  to  see  me  still  up ;  but,  soon  recqver- 
ing  from  her  surprise,  she  came  up  to  me  and  took  hold  of  my 
arm  calling  me  twice  by  my  name  : — '  Theodore,  The'odore ! ' 

" '  What !  you,  Rosette,  here,  at  this  hour,  quite  alone, 
without  a  light  and  so  completely  undressed  ! ' 

"  I  must  tell  you  that  the  fair  one  had  nothing  on  her  but  a 
night-mantle  of  excessively  fine  cambric,  and  the  triumphant 
lace-trimmed  chemise  which  I  was  n'ot  willing  to  see  on  the  day 
of  the  famous  scene  in  the  little  kiosk  in  the  park.  Her  arms, 
smooth  and  cold  as  marble,  were  entirely  bare,  and  the  linen 
covering  her  body  was  so  supple  and  diaphanous  that  it  allowed 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  315 

the  nipples  of  her  breasts  to  be  seen,  as  in  the  statues  of  bathers 
covered  with  wet  drapery. 

"  Is  that  a  reproach,  Theodore,  that  you  are  making  against 
me  ?  or  is  it  only  a  simple,  purely  exclamatory  phrase  ?  Yes, 
I,  Rosette,  the  fine  lady  here,  in  your  very  room  and  not  in  my 
own  where  I  ought  to  be,  at  eleven  or  perhaps  twelve  o'clock  at 
night,  with  neither  duenna,  chaperon,  nor  maid,  scantily  clad, 
in  a  mere  night-wrapper ; — that  is  very  astonishing,  is  it  not  ? 
I  am  as  surprised  at  it  as  you  are,  and  scarcely  know  what 
explanation  to  give  you.5 

"  As  she  said  this  she  passed  one  of  her  arms  around  my 
body,  and  let  herself  fall  on  the  foot  of  my  bed  in  such  a  way 
as  to  draw  me  along  with  her. 

" '  Rosette,'  I  said,  endeavouring  to  disengage  myself,  '  I  am 
going  to  try  to  light  the  lamp  again ;  there  is  nothing  more 
melancholy  than  darkness  in  a  room  ;  and  then,  when  you  are 
here,  it  is  really  a  sin  not  to  see  clearly  and  so  lose  the  sight 
of  your  charms.  Allow  me  by  a  piece  of  tinder  and  a  match, 
to  make  myself  a  little  portable  sun  to  thrown  into  relief  all  that 
the  jealous  night  is  effacing  beneath  its  shades.' 

" '  It's  not  worth  while ;  I  would  as  soon  you  did  not  see  my 
blushes ;  I  can  feel  my  cheeks  burning  all  over,  for  it  is  enough 
to  make  me  die  of  shame.'  She  hid  her  face  upon  my 
breast,  and  for  some  minutes  remained  thus  as  if  suffocated  by 
her  emotion. 

"As  for  myself,  during  this  interval,  I  passed  my  fingers 
mechanically  through  the  long  ringlets  of  her  disordered  hair, 
and  searched  my  brain  for  some  honourable  evasion  to  relieve 
me  of  my  embarrassment.  I  could  find  none,  however,  for  I 
had  been  driven  into  my  last  entrenchment,  and  Rosette 
appeared  perfectly  determined  not  to  leave  the  room  as  she  had 
entered  it  Her  attire  was  of  a  formidable  easy  nature,  which 
did  not  promise  well.  I  myself  was  wearing  only  an  open 
dressing-gown  which  would  have  been  a  poor  protection  for  my 
incognito,  so  that  I  was  extremely  anxious  about  the  result  of 
the  battle. 

"  '  Theodore,  listen  to  me,'  said  Rosette,  rising  and  throwing 


316  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

back  her  hair  from  both  sides  of  her  face,  as  far  as  I  could  see 
by  the  feeble  light  which  the  stars  and  a  very  slender  crescent 
of  the  rising  moon  shed  into  the  room  through  the  still  open 
window ; — '  the  step  which  I  am  taking  is  a  strange  one  ; — 
everyone  would  blame  me  for  having  taken  it.  But  you  are 
leaving  soon,  and  I  love  you  !  I  cannot  let  you  go  in  this  way 
without  coming  to  an  explanation  with  you.  Perhaps  you  will 
never  return  ;  perhaps  it  is  the  first  and  the  last  time  that  I  am 
to  see  you.  Who  knows  where  you  will  go  ?  But  wherever 
you  go  you  will  carry  away  my  soul  and  my  life  with  you.  If 
you  had  remained  I  should  not  have  been  reduced  to  this 
extremity.  The  happiness  of  looking  at  you,  of  listening  to  you, 
of  living  by  your  side  would  have  been  sufficient  for  me  :  I 
would  not  have  asked  for  anything  more.  I  would  have  shut 
up  my  love  within  my  heart ;  you  would  have  thought  that  you 
had  in  me  only  a  good  and  sincere  friend; — but  that  cannot  be. 
You  say  that  it  is  absolutely  necessary  that  you  should  leave. 

" '  It  annoys  you,  Theodore,  to  see  me  clinging  thus  to  your 
footsteps  like  a  loving  shadow  which  cannot  but  follow  you  and 
would  fain  blend  itself  with  your  body ;  it  must  displease  you 
always  to  find  behind  you  beseeching  eyes  and  hands  stretched 
forth  to  seize  the  edge  of  your  cloak.  I  know  it,  but  I  cannot 
prevent  myself  from  acting  thus.  Besides,  you  cannot  complain; 
it  is  your  own  fault-  I  was  calm,  tranquil,  almost  happy  before 
knowing  you.  You  arrived  handsome,  young,  smiling,  like 
Phoebus  the  charming  god.  You  paid  me  the  most  assiduous 
and  delicate  attentions ;  never  was  cavalier  more  sprightly  and 
gallant.  Your  lips  every  moment  let  fall  roses  and  rubies ; — 
everything  served  you  as  an  opportunity  for  a  madrigal, 
and  you  know  how  to  turn  the  most  insignificant  phrases  so  as 
to  convert  them  into  adorable  compliments. 

" '  A  woman  who  had  hated  you  mortally  at  first  would  have 
ended  by  loving  you,  and  I,  I  loved  you  from  the  very  moment 
when  first  I  saw  you.  Why  do  you  appear  so  surprised,  then 
after  being  so  lovable  and  so  well  loved  ?  Is  it  not  quite  a 
natural  consequence  ?  I  am  neither  mad,  nor  thoughtless,  nor 
yet  a  romantic  little  girl  who  becomes  enamoured  of  the  first  sword 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  317 

that  she  sees.  I  am  well-bred,  and  I  know  what  life  is.  What  1 
am  doing,  every  woman,  even  the  most  virtuous  or  most  prudish, 
would  equally  have  done.  What  was  your  idea  and  your  inten- 
tion? to  please  me,  I  imagine,  for  I  can  suppose  no  other. 
How  is  it,  then,  that  you  look  sorry,  in  a  measure,  for  having 
succeeded  so  well  ?  Have  I,  without  knowing  it,  done  anything 
to  displease  you  ?  I  ask  your  pardon  for  it.  Have  you  ceased 
to  think  me  beautiful,  or  have  you  discovered  some  defect  in 
me  which  repels  you  ? 

" '  You  have  the  right  of  being  hard  to  please  in  beauty,  but 
either  you  have  strangely  lied  to  me,  or  else  I  too  am  beautiful ! 
I  am  as  young  as  you,  and  I  love  you  ;  why  do  you  now  disdain 
me  ?  You  used  to  be  so  eager  about  me,  you  supported  my 
arm  with  such  constant  solicitude,  you  pressed  the  hand  I  sur- 
rendered to  you  so  tenderly,  you  raised  such  languorous  eyes 
towards  me  :  if  you  did  not  love  me,  what  was  the  use  of  all  this 
intrigue  ?  Could  you  perchance  have  had  the  cruelty  to  kindle 
love  in  a  heart  in  order  to  have  afterwards  a  subject  for  mirth  ? 
Ah  !  that  would  be  horrible  mockery,  impiety,  sacrilege  !  such 
could  be  the  amusement  only  of  a  frightful  soul,  and  I  cannot 
believe  it  of  you,  quite  inexplicable  as  is  your  behaviour  towards 
me. 

"'What,  then,  is  the  cause  of  this  sudden  change?  For  my  part, 
I  can  see  none.  What  mystery  is  concealed  behind  such  cold- 
ness ?  I  cannot  believe  that  you  have  a  repugnance  to  me ;  your 
conduct  proves  the  contrary,  for  no  one  woos  a  woman  he  dislikes 
with  such  eagerness  were  he  the  greatest  impostor  on  earth.  O 
Theodore,  what  have  you  against  me  ?  who  has  changed  you 
thus?  what  have  I  done  to  you?  If  the  love  which  you 
appeared  to  have  for  me  has  taken  its  flight,  mine,  alas !  has 
remained,  and  I  cannot  uproot  it  from  my  heart.  Have  pity 
on  me,  Theodore,  for  I  am  very  unhappy.  At  least  pretend 
to  love  me  a  little,  and  say  some  gentle  words  to  me ;  it  will 
not  cost  you  much,  unless  you  have  an  insurmountable  horror 
of  me.' 

"At  this  pathetic  portion  of  her  discourse,  her  sobs  com- 
pletely stifled  her  voice  ;  she  crossed  both  her  hands  upon  my 


318  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

shoulder  and  laid  her  forehead  upon  them  in  quite  a  broken 
hearted  attitude.  All  that  she  said  was  perfectly  correct,  and  l 
had  no  good  reply  to  make.  I  could  not  assume  a  bantering 
tone.  It  would  not  have  been  suitable.  Rosette  was  not  one 
of  those  creatures  who  could  be  treated  so  lightly  : — I  was, 
moreover,  too  much  affected  to  be  able  to  do  it.  I  felt  myself 
guilty  for  having  trifled  in  such  a  manner  with  the  heart  of  a 
charming  woman,  and  I  experienced  the  keenest  and  sincerest 
remorse  in  the  world. 

"  Seeing  that  I  made  no  reply,  the  dear  child  heaved  a  long 
sigh  and  made  a  movement  as  though  to  rise,  but  she  fell  back 
again,  weighed  down  by  her  emotion  ;  then  she  encircled  me  in 
her  arms,  the  freshness  of  which  penetrated  my  doublet,  laid 
her  face  upon  mine,  and  began  to  weep  silently. 

"  It  had  a  singular  effect  upon  me  to  feel  this  exhaustless  flow 
of  tears,  which  did  not  come  from  my  own  eyes,  streaming  in 
this  way  down  my  cheek.  It  was  not  long  before  they  were 
mingled  with  mine,  and  there  was  a  veritable  bitter  rain  suffi- 
cient to  cause  a  new  deluge  had  it  only  lasted  forty  days. 

"  At  that  moment  the  moon  happened  to  shine  straight  upon 
the  window ;  a  pale  ray  dipped  into  the  room  and  illuminated 
our  taciturn  group  with  a  bluish  light. 

"  With  her  white  wrapper,  her  bare  arms,  her  uncovered  breast 
and  throat,  of  nearly  the  same  colour  as  her  linen,  her  dis- 
hevelled hair  and  her  mournful  look,  Rosette  had  the  appear- 
ance of  an  alabaster  figure  of  Melancholy  seated  on  a  tomb. 
As  to  myself  I  scarcely  know  what  appearance  I  had  since  J 
could  not  see  myself,  and  there  was  no  glass  to  reflect  my 
image,  but  I  think  that  I  might  very  well  have  posed  for  a 
statue  of  Uncertainty  personified. 

"  I  was  moved,  and  bestowed  a  few  more  tender  caresse? 
than  usual  upon  Rosette  ;  from  her  hair  my  hand  had  descended 
to  her  velvety  neck,  and  thence  to  her  smooth  round  shoulder, 
which  I  gently  stroked,  following  its  quivering  line.  The  child 
vibrated  beneath  my  touch  like  a  keyboard  beneath  a  musician's 
fingers;  her  flesh  started  and  leaped  abruptly,  and  amorous 
thrillings  ran  through  her  body. 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  319 

"  I  myself  felt  a  vague  and  confused  species  of  desire,  whose 
aim  I  could  not  discern,  and  I  felt  great  voluptuousness  in 
going  over  these  pure  delicate  contours.  I  left  her  shoulder, 
and,  profiting  by  the  hiatus  of  a  fold,  suddenly  closed  my  hand 
upon  her  little  frightened  breast,  which  palpitated  distractedly 
like  a  turtle-dove  surprised  in  its  nest; — from  the  extreme 
outline  of  her  cheek  which  I  touched  with  an  almost  insensible 
kiss,  I  reached  her  half-parted  lips,  and  we  remained  like  this 
for  some  time.  I  do  no  know,  though,  whether  it  was  two 
minutes,  or  a  quarter  of  an  hour,  or  an  hour ;  for  I  had  totally 
lost  the  notion  of  time,  and  I  did  not  know  whether  I  was  in 
heaven  or  on  earth,  here  or  elsewhere,  living  or  dead.  The 
heady  wine  of  voluptuousness  had  so  intoxicated  me  at  the  first 
mouthful  that  I  had  drunk,  that  any  reason  I  possessed  had 
left  me. 

"  Rosette  clasped  me  more  and  more  tightly  in  her  arms  and 
covered  rne  with  her  body ; — she  leaned  convulsively  upon  me 
and  pressed  me  to  her  naked  panting  breast ;  at  every  kiss  her 
life  seemed  to  rush  wholly  to  the  spot  that  was  touched,  and 
desert  the  rest  of  her  person.  Strange  ideas  passed  through  my 
head  ;  had  I  not  dreaded  the  betrayal  of  my  incognito,  I  should 
have  given  play  to  Rosette's  impassioned  bursts,  and  should, 
perhaps,  have  made  some  vain  and  mad  attempt  to  impart  a 
semblance  of  reality  to  the  shadow  of  pleasure  so  ardently 
embraced  by  my  fair  mistress ;  I  had  not  yet  had  a  lover ;  and 
these  keen  attacks,  these  reiterated  caresses,  the  contact  with 
this  beautiful  body,  and  these  sweet  names  lost  in  kisses, 
agitated  me  to  the  highest  degree,  although  they  were  those 
of  a  woman ;— and  then  the  nocturnal  visit,  the  romantic 
passion,  the  moonlight,  all  had  a  freshness  and  novel  charm  for 
me  which  made  me  forget  that  after  all  I  was  not  a  man. 

"  Nevertheless,  making  a  great  effort  over  myself,  I  told 
Rosette  that  she  was  compromising  herself  horribly  by  coming 
into  my  room  at  such  an  hour  and  remaining  in  it  so  long,  and 
that  her  women  might  notice  her  absence  and  see  that  she  had 
not  passed  the  night  in  her  own  apartment. 

"  I  said  this  so  gently  that  Rosette  only  replied  by  dropping 


320  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

her  cambric  mantle  and  her  slippers,  and  by  gliding  into  my 
bed  like  a  snake  into  a  bowl  of  milk ;  for  she  imagined  that 
this  proceeding  on  her  part  might  lead  to  more  precise 
demonstrations  upon  mine. 

"She  believed,  poor  child,  that  the  happy  hour  which  had 
been  so  laboriously  contrived,  was  at  last  about  to  strike  for 
her  ;  but  it  only  struck  two  in  the  morning.  My  situation  was 
as  critical  as  it  well  could  be,  when  the  door  turned  on  its 
hinges  and  gave  passage  to  the  very  Chevalier  Alcibiades  in 
person ;  he  held  a  candlestick  in  one  hand  and  his  sword  in 
the  other. 

"  He  went  straight  to  the  bed,  threw  back  the  curtains,  and,  in 
holding  the  light  to  the  face  of  the  confused  Rosette,  said  to 
her  in  a  jeering  tone — 'Good  morning,  sister.'  Little  Rosette 
was  unable  to  find  a  word  in  reply. 

" '  So  it  appears,  my  dearest  and  most  virtuous  sister,  that 
having  in  your  wisdom  judged  that  the  Seigneur  Theodore's 
bed  was  softer  than  your  own,  you  have  come  to  share  it  ?  or 
perhaps  it  is  on  account  of  the  ghosts  in  your  room,  and  you 
thought  that  you  would  be  in  greater  safety  in  this  one  under  the 
protection  of  the  said  seigneur  ?  'Tis  very  well  advised.  Ah  ! 
Chevalier  de  Serannes,  so  you  have  cast  your  amorous  glance 
upon  my  sister,  and  you  think  that  it  will  end  there.  I  fancy  that 
it  would  not  be  unwholesome  to  have  a  little  cutting  of  each 
other's  throats,  and  if  you  will  be  so  kind  I  shall  be  infinitely 
obliged  to  you.  Theodore,  }ou  have  abused  the  friendship 
that  I  had  for  you,  and  you  make  me  repent  of  the  good  opinion 
which  at  the  very  first  I  had  formed  of  the  integrity  of  your 
character :  it  is  bad,  very  bad.5 

"  I  could  not  offer  any  valid  defence :  appearances  were 
against  me.  Who  would  have  believed  me  if  I  had  said,  as  was 
indeed  the  case,  that  Rosette  had  come  kito  my  room  in  spite 
of  me,  and  that,  far  from  seeking  to  please  her,  I  was  doing 
everything  in  my  power  to  estrange  her  from  me  ?  I  had  only 
one  thing  to  say,  and  I  said  it — '  Seigneur  Alcibiades,  there  shall 
be  as  much  throat-cutting  as  you  like.' 

"Puring   this  colloquy,  Rosette    had   not    failed   to   faint 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  321 

according  to  the  soundest  rules  of  the  pathetic  ; — I  went  to  a 
crystal  cup  full  of  water  in  which  the  stem  of  a  large  white, 
half  leafless  rose  was  immersed,  and  threw  a  few  drops  over  her 
face,  which  promptly  brought  her  round  again. 

"Scarcely  knowing  what  face  to  put  on  the  matter,  she 
crouched  down  at  the  bedside  and  buried  her  pretty  head 
beneath  the  clothes,  like  a  bird  settling  itself  to  sleep.  She  had 
so  gathered  the  sheets  and  pillows  about  her  that  it  would  have 
been  very  difficult  to  make  out  what  there  was  beneath  the 
heap ; — only  by  a  few  soft  sighs  issuing  from  time  to  time  could 
it  have  been  guessed  that  it  was  a  young  repentant  sinner,  or  at 
least  one  extremely  sorry  at  being  a  sinner  in  intention  only 
and  not  in  deed, — which  was  the  case  with  the  unfortunate 
Rosette. 

"  The  brother,  having  no  further  anxiety  about  his  sister, 
resumed  the  dialogue,  and  said  in  a  somewhat  gentler  tone  : 
'  It  is  not  absolutely  indispensable  to  cut  each  other's  throats 
at  once,  that  is  an  extreme  measure  which  may  be  resorted  to 
at  any  time.  Listen  : — we  are  not  equally  matched.  You  are 
in  early  youth  and  much  less  vigorous  than  I,  if  we  were 
to  fight  I  should  certainly  kill  you  or  maim  you — and  I  should 
not  like  either  to  kill  or  disfigure  you — which  would  be  a  pity ; 
Rosette,  who  is  over  there  under  the  bed-clothes  and  does  not 
utter  a  word,  would  bear  me  ill-will  for  it  all  her  life ;  for  she  is 
as  spiteful  and  wicked  as  a  tigress  when  she  sets  about  it,  the 
dear  little  dove.  You  don't  know  this,  you  who  are  her  Prince 
Galaor,  and  who  receive  only  charming  kindnesses  from  her ;  but 
it  is  no  slight  matter.  Rosette  is  free  and  so  are  you  ;  it  appears 
that  you  are  not  irreconcilable  enemies;  her  widowhood  i. 
about  to  end,  and  things  could  not  be  better.  Marry  her :  she 
will  have  no  need  to  return  to  her  own  couch,  while  I  shall  in 
this  way  be  freed  from  the  necessity  of  taking  you  as  a  sheath 
for  my  sword,  which  would  not  be  agreeable  either  for  you  or  for 
me ; — what  do  you  think  ?  ' 

"  I  had  every  reason  for  making  a  horrible  grimace,  for  his 
proposal  was  of  all  things  in  the  world  the  most  impracticable 
for  me  :  I  could  sooner  have  walked  on  all  fours  on  the  ceiling, 


322  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

like  the  flies,  or  taken  down  the  sun  without  having  a  stool 
to  stand  on,  than  do  what  he  asked  of  me,  and  yet  the  last 
proposition  was  unquestionably  more  agreeable  than  the  first. 

"  He  appeared  surprised  that  I  did  not  accept  with  ecstasy, 
and  he  repeated  what  he  had  said  as  if  to  give  me  time  to  reply- 

"  '  An  alliance  with  you  would  be  a  most  honourable  one  for 
me,  and  I  should  never  have  dared  to  pretend  to  it :  I  know 
that  it  would  be  an  unprecedented  piece  of  good  fortune  for  a 
youth,  who,  as  yet,  has  neither  rank  nor  standing  in  the  world, 
and  one  that  the  most  illustrious  would  esteem  themselves 
fortunate  to  obtain ; — but  yet  I  can  only  persist  in  my  refusal, 
and,  since  I  am  free  to  choose  between  a  duel  and  marriage,  I 
prefer  the  duel.  'Tis  a  singular  taste — and  few  people  would 
have  it — but  it  is  mine.' 

"  Here  Rosette  gave  the  most  mournful  sob  in  the  world,  put 
forth  her  head  from  beneath  the  pillow,  and  seeing  my  impassi- 
ble and  determined  countenance  put  -it  in  again  like  a  snail 
whose  horns  have  been  struck. 

"  '  It  is  not  that  I  have  no  love  for  Madame  Rosette,  I  love 
her  infinitely ;  but  I  have  reasons  for  not  marrying  which  you 
would  yourself  consider  excellent  if  it  were  possible  for  me  to 
tell  them  to  you.  Moreover  things  have  not  gone  so  far  as 
appearances  might  lead  one  to  be'ieve;  except  a  few  kisses 
which  a  lively  friendship  is  sufficient  to  explain  and  to  justify, 
nothing  has  passed  between  us  that  may  not  be  acknowledged, 
and  your  sister's  virtue  is  assuredly  the  most  intact  and  blame- 
less in  the  world.  I  owed  her  this  testimony.  Now,  Seigneur 
Alcibiades  at  what  time  do  we  fight,  and  where  ? ' 

"  '  Here,  at  once/  cried  Alcibiades,  intoxicated  with  rage. 

"  '  Can  you  think  of  it  ?  before  Rosette  ! ' 

" '  Draw,  villain,  or  I  shall  assassinate  you,'  he  continued, 
brandishing  his  sword  and  whirling  it  around  his  head. 

"  '  Let  us  at  least  leave  the  room.' 

"  '  If  you  do  not  put  yourself  on  guard  I  will  pin  you  to  the 
wall  like  a  bat,  my  fine  Celadon,  and  though  you  may  flap  your 
wings  to  eternity,  you  will  not  get  free,  I  give  you  warning. 
And  he  rushed  upon  me  with  his  weapon  raised. 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  323 

"  I  drew  my  rapier,— for  he  would  have  done  as  he  had  said. 
— and  at  first  contented  myself  with  parrying  his  thrusts. 

"Rosette  made  a  superhuman  effort  to  come  and  throw 
herself  between  our  swords,  for  both  combatants  were  equally 
dear  to  her ;  but  her  strength  deserted  her,  and  she  rolled 
senseless  on  to  the  foot  of  the  bed. 

"  Our  blades  gleamed  and  made  a  noise  like  that  of  an  anvil, 
for  want  of  space  obliged  us  to  engage  our  swords  very  closely. 

"  Two  or  three  times  Alcibiades  nearly  reached  me,  and  had 
I  not  been  an  excellent  master  of  fence  my  life  would  have 
been  in  the  greatest  danger ;  for  his  skill  was  astonishing  and 
his  strength  prodigious.  He  exhausted  all  the  tricks  and  feints 
in  fencing  to  touch  me.  Enraged  at  his  want  of  success,  he 
exposed  himself  twice  or  thrice  ;  I  would  not  take  advantage 
of  it;  but  he  returned  to  the  attack  with  such  desperate  and 
savage  fury,  that  I  was  forced  to  seize  upon  the  opening  that 
he  gave  me ;  moreover,  the  noise  and  whirling  flashes  of  the 
steel  intoxicated  and  dazzled  me.  I  did  not  think  of  death 
and  had  not  the  least  fear ;  the  keen  and  mortal  point  which 
came  before  my  eyes  every  second  had  no  more  effect  upon  me 
than  if  I  were  fighting  with  buttoned  foils ;  only  I  was  indignant 
at  Alcibiades's  brutality,  and  my  indignation  was  still  further 
heightened  by  the  consciousness  of  my  perfect  innocence. 
I  wished  merely  to  prick  him  in  the  arm  or  shoulder  and  so 
make  him  drop  his  sword,  for  I  had  vainly  tried  to  disarm  him. 
He  had  a  wrist  of  iron,  and  the  devil  could  not  have  made  him 
move  it. 

"  At  last  he  made  a  thrust  so  quick  and  so  long  that  I  could 
only  partially  parry  it ;  my  sleeve  was  pierced  and  I  felt  the 
chill  of  the  iron  on  my  arm  ;  but  I  was  not  wounded.  At  sight 
of  this  I  became  angry,  and  instead  of  defending  myself 
attacked  in  turn  ; — I  forgot  that  he  was  Rosette's  brother  and  I 
fell  upon  him  as  though  he  had  been  my  mortal  enemy. 
Taking  advantage  of  a  mistake  in  the  position  of  his  sword  I 
made  so  close  a  flanconnade  that  I  reached  his  side,  and  with 
an  '  Oh  ! '  he  fell  backwards. 

"  I  thought  that  he  was  dead  but  he  was  really  only  wounded. 


324  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

and  his  fall  was  occasioned  by  a  false  step  that  he  had  made  while 
trying  to  defend  himself.  I  cannot  express,  Graciosa,  the 
sensation  that  I  experienced;  certainly,  it  is  not  difficult  to 
make  the  reflection  that  if  you  strike  flesh  with  a  fine,  sharp 
point,  a  hole  will  be  pierced  and  blood  will  gush  out.  Never- 
theless I  was  profoundly  stupefied  on  perceiving  red  streams 
trickling  over  Alcibiades's  doublet.  I  of  course  had  not  thought 
sawdust  would  come  out  as  from  a  burst  doll ;  but  I  know  that 
never  in  my  life  did  I '  experience  such  great  surprise,  and  it 
seemed  to  me  that  some  unheard-of  thing  had  just  happened 
to  me. 

"The  unheard-of  thing  was  not,  as  it  appeared  to  me,  that 
blood  should  flow  from  a  wound,  but  that  the  wound  should 
have  been  given  by  me,  and  that  a  young  girl  of  my  age  (I  was 
going  to  write  '  a  young  man,'  so  well  have  I  entered  into  the 
spirit  of  my  part)  should  have  laid  low  a  vigorous  captain  so 
well  trained  in  the  art  of  fence  as  Alcibiades  : — and  all  this,  what 
is  more,  for  the  crime  of  seducing  and  refusing  to  marry  a 
very  rich  and  charming  woman ! 

"  I  was  truly  in  a  cruel  embarrassment,  with  the  sister  in  a 
swoon,  the  brother,  as  I  believed,  dead,  and  myself  nearly 
swooning  or  dead  like  one  or  other  ot  them.  I  hung  to  the 
bell-rope,  chimed  loud  enough  to  wake  the  dead,  and,  leaving 
the  task  of  explaining  matters  to  the  servants  and  the  old  aunt 
to  be  performed  by  the  fainting  Rosette  and  the  embowelled 
Alcibiades,  went  straight  to  the  stable.  The  air  restored  me  at 
once ;  I  took  out  my  horse,  and  saddled  and  bridled  him  myself; 
I  ascertained  that  the  crupper  was  properly  fastened  and  the  curb 
in  a  right  condition  ;  I  made  the  stirrups  of  equal  length,  drew 
the  girth  a  notch  tighter  : — in  a  word,  I  harnessed  him  with  an 
attention  that  was  at  least  singular  at  such  a  moment,  and  with  a 
calmness  quite  inconceivable  after  a  combat  terminated  in  such 
a  way. 

"  I  mounted  my  beast  and  crossed  the  park  by  a  path  that 
I  knew.  The  branches  of  the  trees  all  laden  with  dew,  lashed 
my  face  and  wetted  it :  you  would  have  thought  that  the  old  trees 
were  stretching  out  their  arms  to  stop  me  and  keep  me  for  the 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  325 

love  of  their  mistress.  Had  I  been  in  a  different  mood,  or 
at  all  superstitious,  I  might  have  believed  that  they  were  so 
many  phantoms  who  wished  to  seize  me  and  were  showing  me 
their  fists. 

"  But  in  reality  I  had  not  a  single  idea  either  of  ihat  kind  or  of 
any  other ;  a  leaden  stupor,  so  great  that  I  was  scarcely  con- 
scious of  it,  weighed  upon  my  brain  like  too  tight  a  helmet;  only 
it  did  seem  to  me  that  I  had  killed  some  one  yonder  and  that 
it  was  for  this  that  I  was  going  away.  I  was,  moreover,  horribly 
inclined  to  sleep,  whether  owing  to  the  lateness  of  the  hour 
or  to  the  fact  that  the  emotions  of  the  evening  had  had  a 
physical  reaction  and  had  corporally  fatigued  me. 

"  I  reached  a  little  postern  which  opened  upon  the  fields  in 
a  secret  way  which  Rosette  had  shown  me  in  our  walks.  I  dis- 
mounted, touched  the  knob  and  pushed  open  the  door :  I 
regained  my  saddle  after  leading  my  horse  through,  and  put  him 

to  the  gallop  until  I  reached  the  highroad  to  C ,  at  which 

place  I  arrived  at  early  dawn. 

"  Such  is  the  very  faithful  and  circumstantial  history  of  my 
first  intrigue  and  my  first  duel  " 


XV 


T  was  five  o'clock  in  the  morning  when  I  entered 
the  town.  The  houses  were  beginning  to  look 
out  of  window ;  the  worthy  natives  were  show- 
ing their  benign  countenances  surmounted  by 
colossal  night-caps  behind  the  panes.  At  the  sound  of  my 
horses'  iron-shod  hoofs  ringing  upon  the  uneven  flinty  pave- 
ment there  would  emerge  from  every  dormer  window  the  big 
curiously  red  countenances  and  the  matutinally  uncovered 
breasts  of  the  local  Venuses  who  lost  themselves  in  conjectures 

about  the  unwonted  appearance  of  a  traveller  at  C ,  at  such 

an  hour  and  in  such  an  equipment,  for  my  attire  was  on  a  very 
small  scale,  and  my  appearance  was,  at  the  least,  suspicious. 

"  I  got  a  little  rascal,  who  had  his  hair  over  his  eyes,  and 
lifted  up  his  spaniel's  muzzle  in  the  air  that  he  might  consider 
me  more  comfortably,  to  point  me  out  an  inn  ;  I  gave  him  a 
few  coppers  for  his  trouble,  and  a  conscientious  cut  with  my. 
riding-whip,  which  made  him  nee  away  screaming  like  a  jay 
that  had  been  plucked  alive.  I  threw  myself  upon  a  bed  and 
fell  fast  asleep.  When  I  awoke  it  was  three  o'clock  in  the 
afternoon, — a  length  of  time  scarcely  sufficient  to  rest  me 
completely.  In  fact  it  was  not  too  much  for  a  sleepless  night, 
an  intrigue,  a  duel,  and  a  very  rapid  though  quite  victorious 
flight. 

'  I  was  very  anxious  about  the  wound  that  I  had  given 
Alcibiades;  butsome  days  afterwards  I  was  completely  reassured, 
for  I  learnt  that  it  had  not  been  attended  by  dangerous  con- 
sequences, and  that  he  was  quite  convalescent.  This  relieved 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  327 

me  of  a  singular  weight,  for  the  idea  of  having  killed  a  man 
tormented  me  strangely  although  it  had  been  in  lawful  self- 
defence,  and  against  my  own  wish.  I  had  not  yet  arrived  at 
that  sublime  indifference  towards  men's  lives  to  which  I  after- 
wards attained. 

"  At  C I  again  came  across  several  of  the  young  fellows 

with  whom  we  had  travelled.  This  pleased  me  ;  I  formed  a 
closer  connection  with  them,  and  they  introduced  me  into 
several  agreeable  houses.  I  had  become  completely  used  to 
my  dress,  and  the  ruder  and  more  active  life  that  I  had  led, 
and  the  violent  exercises  to  which  I  had  devoted  myself,  had 
made  me  twice  as  robust  as  I  had  been  before.  I  followed 
these  mad-caps  everywhere ;  I  rode,  hunted,  had  orgies  with 
them,  for  little  by  little  I  had  come  to  drink ;  without  attaining 
to  the  perfectly  German  capacity  of  some  among  them,  I  could 
empty  two  or  three  bottles  for  my  share  without  getting  very 
tipsy,  which  was  very  satisfactory  progress.  I  made  verses  like 
a  god  with  extreme  copiousness,  and  kissed  inn-servants  with 
sufficient  boldness. 

"  In  short,  I  was  an  accomplished  young  cavalier  in  complete 
comformity  with  fne  iabi  fashionable  pattern.  I  got  rid  of  certain 
countrified  notions  that  I  had  had  about  virtue  and  other 
similar  tarradiddles ;  on  the  other  hand,  I  became  so  pro- 
digiously delicate  in  point  of  honour  that  I  fought  a  duel  nearly 
every  day  :  it  even  became  a  necessity  with  me  to  do  so,  a  sort 
of  indispensable  ecercise  without  which  I  should  have  felt  out  of 
sorts  the  whole  day.  Accordingly,  when  no  one  had  looked  at 
me  or  trodden  on  my  foot  and  I  had  no  motive  for  fighting, 
rather  than  remain  idle  and  not  exercise  myself  in  fencing,  I 
would  act  as  second  to  my  comrades  or  even  to  men  whom  I 
knew  only  by  name. 

"  I  had  soon  a  colossal  renown  for  bravery,  and  nothing  short 
of  it  was  necessary  to  check  the  pleasantries  which  would 
infallibly  have  been  suggested  by  my  beardless  face  and  effem- 
inate appearance.  But  two  or  three  superfluous  button-holes 
that  I  had  opened  in  some  doublets,  and  a  few  slices  that  I  very 
delicately  cut  from  some  recalcitrant  skins,  caused  my  appear 


328  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUI   N. 

ance  to  be  generally  considered  more  manly  than  that  of  Mars 
in  person  or  of  Priapus  himself,  and  you  might  have  met  with 
people  who  would  have  sworn  that  they  had  held  bastards  of 
mine  over  the  baptismal  font 

"  Through  all  this  apparent  dissipation,  amid  this  riotous, 
extravagant  life,  I  ceased  not  to  pursue  my  original  idea,  that  is 
to  say  the  conscientious  study  of  man  and  the  solution  of  the 
great  problem  of  a  perfect  lover,  a  problem  somewhat  more 
difficult  to  solve  than  that  of  the  philosopher's  stone. 

"  Certain  ideas  are  like  the  horizon  which  most  certainly 
exists  since  you  see  it  in  front  of  you  in  whatever  direction  you 
turn,  but  which  flees  obstinately  before  you,  and,  whether  you 
go  at  a  foot  pace  or  at  a  gallop,  keeps  always  at  the  same 
distance  from  you  ;  for  it  cannot  manifest  itself  except  with  a 
determined  condition  of  remoteness;  it  is  destroyed  in  pro- 
portion as  you  advance,  to  be  formed  further  away  with  its 
fleeting  imperceptib'e  azure,  and  it  is  in  vain  that  you  try  to 
detain  it  by  the  hem  of  its  flowing  mantle. 

"  The  further  I  progressed  in  my  knowledge  of  the  animal, 
the  more  I  saw  how  utterly  impossible  was  the  realisation  of  my 
desire,  and  how  completely  external  to  the  conditions  of  its 
nature  was  that  which  I  found  indispensable  to  an  auspicious 
love.  I  convinced  myself  that  the  man  who  would  be  the 
most  sincerely  in  love  with  me  would  with  the  greatest  readi- 
ness in  the  world  find  means  to  make  me  the  most  wretched 
of  women,  and  yet  I  had  already  abandoned  many  of  my 
girlish  requirements.  I  had  come  down  from  the  sublime 
clouds,  not  altogether  into  the  street  and  the  kennel,  but  upon 
a  hill  of  medium  height,  accessible  though  somewhat  steep. 

"  The  ascent,  it  is  true,  was  rude  enough ;  but  I  was 
so  proud  as  to  believe  that  I  was  quite  worth  the  trouble  of 
the  effort,  and  that  I  should  be  a  sufficient  compensation  for 
the  pains  that  had  been  taken.  I  could  never  have  prevailed 
upon  myself  to  take  a  step  forward ;  I  waited,  perched 
patiently  upon  my  summit. 

"  My  plan  was  as  follows  : — In  my  male  attire  I  should  have 
made  the  acquaintance  of  some  young  man  whose  exterioi 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  329 

pleased  me ;  I  should  have  lived  on  familiar  terms  with  him ; 
by  means  of  skilful  questions  and  false  confidences  which  would 
have  challenged  true  ones,  I  should  soon  have  acquired  a  com- 
plete knowledge  of  his  feelings  and  thoughts ;  and,  if  I  found 
him  such  a  one  as  I  wished  him  to  be,  I  should  have  alleged 
some  journey,  and  kept  away  from  him  for  three  or  four  months 
to  give  him  time  to  forget  my  features;  then  I  should  have 
returned  in  my  woman's  costume,  and  arranged  a  voluptuous 
little  house,  buried  amid  trees  and  flowers,  in  a  retired  suburb  ; 
then  I  should  have  so  ordered  matters  that  he  would  have  met 
me  and  wooed  me ;  and,  if  he  showed  a  true  and  faithful  love, 
I  should  have  given  myself  to  him  without  restriction  or  pre- 
caution : — the  title  of  his  mistress  would  have  appeared  honour- 
able to  me,  and  I  should  not  have  asked  him  for  any  other. 

"  But  assuredly  this  plan  will  never  be  put  into  execution, 
for  it  is  characteristic  of  plans  never  to  be  executed,  wherein 
principally  appear  the  frailty  of  the  will  and  the  mere  nothing- 
ness of  man.  The  proverb  '  God  wills  what  woman  wills  '  has 
no  more  truth  in  it  than  any  other  proverb,  that  is  to  say,  it 
has  hardly  any  at  all. 

"  So  long  as  I  had  seen  men  only  at  a  distance  and  through 
the  medium  of  my  desire,  they  had  appeared  comely  to  me,  and 
my  sight  had  deceived  me.  Now  I  consider  them  frightful  in 
the  highest  degree,  and  do  not  understand  how  a  woman  can 
admit  such  a  creature  into  her  bed  ;  for  my  part,  it  would  turn 
my  stomach,  and  I  could  never  bring  myself  to  it. 

"  How  coarse  and  ignoble  are  their  lineaments,  and  how  de- 
void of  delicacy  and  elegance  !  what  unfinished  and  unpleasing 
lines !  what  hard,  dark,  and  furrowed  skin !  Some  are  as 
swarthy  as  men  that  had  been  hanged  for  six  months,  emaciated, 
bony,  hairy,  with  violin-strings  on  their  hands,  large  drawbridge 
feet,  dirty  moustaches  always  full  of  food  and  twirled  back  to  the 
ears,  hair  as  rough  as  a  broom's  bristles,  chins  ending  like  boars' 
heads,  lips  cracked  and  dried  by  strong  liquors,  eyes  sur- 
rounded by  three  or  four  dark  orbs,  necks  full  of  twisted  veins, 
big  muscles  and  prominent  cartilages.  Others  are  stuffed  with 
red  meat,  and  push  on  before  them  a  belly  that  their  waist-beit 

x 


330  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

can  scarcely  span ;  they  blink  as  they  open  their  little  sea- 
green  eyes  inflamed  with  luxury,  and  resemble  hippopotamuses 
in  breeches  rather  than  human  creatures.  They  always  smell 
either  of  wine,  or  brandy,  or  tobacco,  or  else  of  their  own  natural 
odour,  which  is  the  very  worst  of  all.  As  to  those  whose  forms 
are  somewhat  less  disgusting,  they  are  like  misshapen  women. 
And  that  is  all. 

"  I  had  not  remarked  all  this.  I  had  been  in  life  as  in  a 
cloud,  and  my  feet  scarcely  touched  the  earth.  The  odour  of 
the  roses  and  lilacs  of  spring  went  to  my  head  like  too  strong  a 
perfume.  I  dreamt  only  of  accomplished  heroes,  faithful  and 
respectful  lovers,  flames  worthy  of  the  altar,  marvellous  devo- 
tions and  sacrifices,  and  I  should  have  thought  that  I  had  found 
them  all  in  the  first  blackguard  that  bade  me  good  day.  Yet 
this  first,  coarse  intoxication  had  no  long  duration ;  strange  sus- 
picions seized  me,  and  I  could  have  no  rest  until  I  had  cleared 
them  up. 

"  At  first  my  horror  of  men  was  pushed  to  the  last  degree  of 
exaggeration,  and  I  looked  upon  them  as  dreadful  monstrosi- 
ties. Their  modes  of  thought,  their  manners  and  their  care- 
lessly cynical  language,  their  brutality  and  their  scorn  of  women 
shocked  and  revolted  me  extremely,  so  little  did  the  idea  that  I 
had  formed  of  them  correspond  with  the  reality.  They  are  not 
monsters,  if  you  will,  but  something,  on  my  word,  that  is  much 
worse  !  They  are  capital  fellows  of  very  jovial  disposition,  who 
eat  and  drink  well,  will  do  you  all  kinds  of  services,  are  good 
painters  and  musicians,  and  are  suitable  for  a  thousand  things, 
with,  however,  the  single  exception  of  that  one  for  which  they, 
were  created,  namely,  to  be  the  male  of  the  animal  called 
woman,  with  which  they  have  not  the  slightest  affinity,  physical 
or  moral. 

"  Originally,  I  could  scarcely  disguise  the  contempt  with 
which  they  inspired  me,  but  by  degrees  I  became  accustomed 
to  their  manner  of  life.  I  was  as  little  annoyed  by  the  jests 
that  they  launched  against  women  as  if  I  had  myself  belonged 
to  their  own  sex.  On  the  contrary,  I  made  some  very  good  ones, 
the  success  of  which  singularly  flattered  my  pride;  certainly 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN  331 

none  of  my  comrades  went  so  far  as  I  did  in  the  matter  of  sar 
casm  and  pleasantries  on  this  subject.  My  perfect  knowledge 
of  the  ground  gave  me  a  great  advantage,  and,  besides  any 
piquant  turn  that  they  might  have,  my  epigrams  shone  in  virtue 
of  an  accuracy  that  was  often  wanting  in  theirs.  For  although 
all  the  evil  that  is  said  of  women  has  always  some  foundation, 
it  is  nevertheless  difficult  for  men  to  preserve  the  composure 
requisite  in  order  to  jest  about  them  well,  and  there  is  often  a 
good  deal  of  love  in  their  invectives. 

"  I  remarked  that  it  was  those  that  were  most  tender  and  had 
most  feeling  about  women  who  treated  them  worse  than  the 
rest,  and  who  returned  to  the  subject  with  quite  a  peculiar  bitter- 
ness as  though  they  owed  them  a  mortal  grudge  for  not  being 
what  they  wished  them  to  be,  and  for  falsifying  the  good  opinion 
they  had  first  formed  about  them. 

"  What  I  desired  above  all  things  was  not  physical  beauty, 
it  was  beauty  of  the  soul,  love ;  but  love,  as  I  am  sensible  of  it, 
is  perhaps  beyond  human  possibilities.  And  yet  it  seems  to 
me  that  I  should  love  in  this  way,  and  that  I  should  give  more 
than  I  require. 

"  What  magnificent  madness  !  what  sublime  extravagance  ! 

"  To  surrender  yourself  entirely  without  any  self-reservation, 
to  renounce  the  possession  of  yourself  and  the  freedom  of  your 
will,  to  place  the  latter  in  the  hands  of  another,  to  see  only 
with  his  eyes  and  hear  only  with  his  ears,  to  be  but  one  in  two 
bodies,  to  blend  and  mingle  your  souls  so  that  you  cannot  tell 
whether  you  are  yourself  or  the  other,  to  absorb  and  radiate 
continually,  to  be  now  the  moon  and  now  the  sun,  to  see  the 
whole  of  the  world  and  of  creation  in  a  single  being,  to  displace 
the  centre  of  life,  to  be  ready,  at  any  time,  for  the  greatest 
sacrifices  and  the  most  absolute  abnegation,  to  suffer  in  the 
bosom  of  the  person  loved  as  though  it  were  your  own ;  O 
wonder !  to  double  yourself  while  giving  yourself — such  is  love 
as  I  conceive  it. 

"  Fidelity  like  that  of  the  ivy,  entwinings  as  of  the  young 
vine,  and  cooings  as  of  the  turtle-dove,  these  are  matters  of 
course,  and  are  the  first  and  simplest  conditions. 


332  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

"  Had  I  remained  at  home,  in  the  costume  of  my  sex,  turning 
my  wheel  with  melancholy  or  making  tapestry  behind  a  pane  in 
the  embrasure  of  a  window,  what  I  have  sought  for  through  the 
world  would  perhaps  have  come  and  found  me  of  itself.  Love 
is  like  fortune,  and  dislikes  to  be  pursued.  It  visits  by  pre- 
ference those  that  are  sleeping  on  the  edge  of  wells,  and  the 
kisses  of  queens  and  gods  often  descend  upon  closed  eyes.  It 
is  a  lure  and  a  deception  to  think  that  all  adventures  and  all 
happiness  exist  only  in  those  places  where  you  are  not,  and  it  is 
a  miscalculation  to  have  your  horse  saddled  and  to  post  off  in 
quest  of  your  ideal  Many  people  make,  and  many  others 
will  again  make  this  mistake.  The  horizon  is  always  of  the 
most  charming  azure,  although  when  you  reach  it  the  hills  com- 
posing it  are  usually  but  poor,  cracked  clay,  or  ochre  washed  by 
the  rain. 

"  I  had  imagined  that  the  world  was  full  of  adorable  youths, 
and  that  populations  of  Esplandians,  Amadises,  and  Lancelots 
of  the  Lake  were  to  be  met  with  on  the  roads  in  pursuit  of  their 
Dulcineas;  and  I  was  greatly  astonished  that  the  world  took 
very  little  heed  of  this  sublime  search  and  was  content  to 
share  the  couch  of  the  first  prostitute  that  came  in  the  way.  I 
am  well  punished  for  my  curiosity  and  distrust.  I  am  surfeited 
in  the  most  horrible  manner  possible  without  having  enjoyed. 
With  me  knowledge  has  gone  before  use ;  nothing  can  be  worse 
than  such  premature  experiences  which  are  not  the  fruit  of 
action. 

"  The  completest  ignorance  would  be  a  thousand  times 
better;  it  would  at  least  make  you  do  many  foolish  things 
which  would  serve  to  instruct  you  and  to  rectify  your  ideas ;  for, 
beneath  the  disgust  of  which  I  have  been  speaking,  there  is  always 
a  lively  and  rebellious  element  which  produces  the  strangest 
disorders :  the  mind  is  vanquished,  but  the  body  is  not,  and 
will  not  subscribe  to  this  superb  disdain.  The  young  and 
robust  body  strives  and  kicks  beneath  the  mind  like  a  vigorous 
stallion  ridden  by  a  feeble  old  man,  whom,  however,  he  is 
unable  to  throw,  for  the  cavesson  holds  his  head  and  the  bit 
tears  his  mouth. 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  333 

Since  I  have  lived  with  men,  I  have  seen  so  many  women 
basely  betrayed,  so  many  secret  connections  imprudently  di 
vulged,  the  purest  loves  dragged  carelessly  through  the  mire, 
young  fellows  hastening  to  frightful  courtesans  on  leaving  the 
arms  of  the  most  charming  mistresses,  the  most  firmly  estab- 
lished amours  suddenly  broken  off  without  any  plausible  motive, 
that  I  now  find  it  impossible  to  decide  on  taking  a  lover.  It 
would  be  to  throw  oneself  in  broad  daylight  and  with  open  eyes 
into  a  bottomless  abyss.  Nevertheless,  the  secret  desire  of  my 
heart  is  still  to  have  one.  The  voice  of  nature  stifles  the  voice 
of  reason.  I  am  quite  sensible  that  I  shall  never  be  happy  if  I 
cannot  love  and  be  loved : — but  the  misfortune  is  that  only  a 
man  can  be  had  as  a  lover,  and  if  men  are  not  altogether  devils, 
they  are  very  far  from  being  angels.  It  would  be  vain  for  them 
to  stick  feathers  on  their  shoulder-blades,  and  put  a  glory  of 
gilt  paper  on  their  heads :  I  know  them  too  well  to  be  de- 
ceived. All  the  fine  things  that  they  could  whisper  to  me 
would  be  of  no  avail.  I  know  beforehand  what  they  are  going 
to  say,  and  could  say  it  for  them. 

"  I  have  seen  them  studying  their  parts  and  rehearsing  them 
before  going  on  in  front ;  I  know  the  chief  of  the  tirades  that 
they  intend  to  be  effective  and  the  passages  on  which  they  rely. 
Neither  paleness  of  face  nor  alteration  of  feature  would  convince 
me.  I  know  that  these  prove  nothing.  A  night  of  orgie,  a  few 
bottles  of  wine,  and  two  or  three  girls,  are  sufficient  to  wrinkle 
your  face  most  becomingly.  I  have  seen  this  trick  practised 
by  a  young  marquis,  by  nature  very  rosy  and  fresh-coloured,  who 
found  himself  all  the  better  for  it,  and  owed  the  crowning  of  his 
passion  only  to  this  touching  and  well-gained  paleness.  I  know 
also  how  the  most  languorous  Celadons  console  themselves 
for  the  harshness  of  their  Astraeas  and  find  means  for  being 
patient  while  waiting  for  the  happy  hour.  I  have  seen  sluts 
serving  as  substitutes  for  chaste  Ariadnes. 

"  Truly,  after  this,  man  tempts  me  but  little ;  for  he  does  not 
possess  beauty  like  woman,  beauty,  that  splendid  garment  which 
so  well  disguises  the  imperfections  of  the  soul,  that  divine 
drapery  cast  by  God  over  the  nakedness  of  the  world,  and  which 


334  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

makes  it  in  some  measure  excusable  to  love  the  vilest  courtesan 
of  the  kennel  if  she  owns  this  magnificent  and  royal  gift. 

"  In  default  of  the  virtues  of  the  soul,  I  should  at  least  wish 
for  exquisite  perfection  of  form,  salinity  of  flesh,  roundness  of 
contour,  sweetness  of  line,  delicacy  of  skin,  all  that  makes  the 
charm  of  women.  Since  I  cannot  have  love,  I  would  have 
voluptuousness,  and,  well  or  ill,  replace  the  brother  by  the 
sister.  But  all  the  men  that  I  have  seen  seem  to  me  frightfully 
ugly.  My  horse  is  a  hundred  times  more  handsome,  and  I 
should  have  less  repugnance  to  kissing  him  than  to  kissing 
sundry  wonderful  fellows  who  believe  themselves  very  charm- 
ing. Certainly  a  fop  like  those  of  my  acquaintance  would  not 
be  a  brilliant  theme  for  me  to  embellish  with  variations  of 
pleasure 

"  A  soldier  would  suit  me  nearly  as  little  ;  military  men  have 
something  mechanical  in  their  walk  and  something  bestial  in 
their  face  which  makes  me  look  upon  them  as  scarcely  human 
creatures ;  gentlemen  of  the  long  robe  are  not  more  delightful 
to  me,  they  are  dirty,  oily,  shaggy,  threadbare,  with  glaucous 
eyes  and  lipless  mouths ;  they  smell  immoderately  rancid  and 
mouldy,  and  I  should  feel  no  inclination  to  lay  my  face  against 
their  lynx  or  badger-like  muzzles.  As  to  poets,  they  think  of 
nothing  in  the  world  but  the  endings  of  words  and  go  no 
further  back  than  to  the  penultimate,  and,  in  truth,  are  diffi- 
cult to  make  use  of  suitably ;  they  are  more  wearisome 
than  the  others,  but  they  are  as  ugly  and  have  not  the  least 
distinction  or  elegance  in  their  figure  and  dress,  which  is  truly 
singular : — men  who  are  occupied  the  whole  day  with  form  and 
beauty  do  not  perceive  that  their  boots  are  badly  made  and 
their  hats  ridiculous !  They  look  like  country  apothecaries  or 
teachers  of  learned  dogs  out  of  work,  and  would  give  you  a  dis- 
taste for  poetry  and  verse  for  several  eternities. 

"As  for  painters,  their  stupidity  also  is  enormous;  they  see 
nothing  except  the  seven  colours.  One  with  whom  I  had  spent 

a  few  days  at  R ,  and  who  was  asked  what  he  thought  of 

me,  made  this  ingenious  reply :  '  He  is  rather  warm  in  tone,  and 
in  the  shadows  pure  Naples  yellow  should  be  employed  instead 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  335 

of  white,  with  a  little  Cassel  ochre  and  reddish  brown.'  Such 
was  his  opinion,  and,  moreover,  his  nose  was  crooked  and  his 
eyes  like  his  nose ;  which  did  not  improve  his  chances.  Whom 
shall  I  take? — a  soldier  with  bulging  crop,  a  limb  of  the 
law  with  convex  shoulders,  a  poet  or  painter  with  a  wild  look, 
a  lean  little  coxcomb  without  consistence  ?  Which  cage  shall  I 
choose  in  this  menagerie  ?  I  am  quite  unable  to  say  ;  I  feel  as 
little  inclination  in  one  direction  as  in  another,  for  they  are  as 
perfectly  equal  in  point  of  foolishness  and  ugliness  as  they  can 
possibly  be. 

"  Another  alternative  would  still  be  open  to  me,  which  would 
be  to  take  any  one  that  I  loved  though  he  were  a  porter  or  a 
jockey ;  but  I  do  not  love  even  a  porter.  O  unhappy  heroine 
that  I  am !  unmated  turtle-dove  condemned  eternally  to  utter 
elegiac  cooings ! 

"  Oh  !  how  many  times  have  I  wished  to  be  really  a  man  as 
I  appear  to  be  !  How  many  women  are  there  with  whom  I 
should  have  had  a  fellow-feeling,  and  whose  hearts  would  have 
understood  mine !  how  perfectly  happy  should  I  have  been 
rendered  by  those  delicacies  of  love,  those  noble  flights  of  pure 
passion  to  which  I  could  have  replied  !  What  sweetness,  what 
delight !  how  would  all  the  sensitive  plants  of  my  soul  have 
bloomed  freely  without  being  obliged  every  minute  to  contract 
and  close  beneath  some  coarse  touch  !  What  charming  efflor- 
escence of  invisible  flowers  which  will  never  open,  and  whose 
mysterious  perfume  would  have  tenderly  embalmed  the  fraternal 
soul !  It  seems  to  me  that  it  would  have  been  an  enchanting 
life,  an  infinite  ecstasy  with  ever  outstretched  wings ;  walks, 
with  hands  entwined  never  releasing  their  hold,  beneath  avenues 
of  golden  sand,  through  groves  of  eternally-smiling  roses,  in 
parks  full  of  fish-ponds  with  gliding  swans,  and  alabaster  vases 
standing  out  against  the  foliage. 

"  Had  I  been  a  youth,  how  I  should  have  loved  Rosette ! 
what  worship  it  would  have  been  !  Our  souls  were  truly  made 
for  each  other,  two  pearls  destined  to  blend  together  and  make 
but  one  !  How  perfectly  should  I  have  realised  the  ideas  that 
she  had  formed  of  love !  Her  character  suits  me  completely, 


336  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

and  her  style  of  beauty  pleases  me.  It  is  a  pity  that  our  love 
should  be  totally  condemned  to  indispensable  platonism  ! 

"  An  adventure  befell  me  lately. 

"  I  used  to  visit  a  house  in  which  there  was  a  charming  little 
girl,  fifteen  years  old  at  the  very  most :  I  have  never  seen  a 
more  adorable  miniature.  She  was  fair,  but  so  delicately  and 
transparently  fair  that  ordinary  blondes  would  have  appeared 
excessively  brown  and  as  dark  as  moles  beside  her ;  you  would 
have  thought  that  she  had  golden  hair  powdered  with  silver ; 
her  eyebrows  were  of  so  mild  and  soft  a  tint  that  they  were 
scarcely  apparent  to  the  sight ;  her  pale  blue  eyes  had  the  most 
velvety  look  and  the  most  silky  lashes  imaginable  ;  her  mouth, 
too  small  to  put  the  tip  of  your  finger  into  it,  added  still  further 
to  the  childish  and  exquisite  character  of  her  beauty,  and  the 
gentle  curves  and  dimples  of  her  cheeks  had  an  ingenuousness 
that  was  unspeakably  charming.  The  whole  of  her  dear  little 
person  delighted  me  beyond  all  expression  ;  I  loved  her  frail, 
white,  little  hands  through  which  you  could  see  the  light,  her 
bird-like  foot  which  scarcely  touched  the  ground,  her  figure  which 
a  breath  would  have  broken,  and  her  pearly  shoulders,  little 
developed  as  yet,  which  her  scarf,  placed  awry,  happily  disclosed. 

"  Her  prattle,  in  which  artlessness  imparted  fresh  piquancy  to 
her  natural  wit,  would  engage  me  for  whole  hours,  and  I  took 
singular  pleasure  in  making  her  talk ;  she  would  utter  a 
thousand  delicious  comicalities,  now  with  extraordinary  nicety 
of  intention,  and  now  without  having  apparently  the  slightest 
comprehension  of  their  scope, — which  made  them  a  thousand 
times  more  attractive.  I  used  to  give  her  bon-bons'  and 
lozenges,  kept  expressly  for  her  in  a  light  tortoise-shell  box, 
which  pleased  her  greatly,  for  she  is  dainty  like  the  true  little 
puss  that  she  is.  As  soon  as  I  arrived  she  would  run  up  to  me 
and  try  my  pockets  to  see  whether  the  blissful  bon-bon  box 
was  there ;  I  would  make  her  run  from  one  hand  to  the  other, 
and  this  would  occasion  a  little  battle  in  which  she  in  the  end 
infallibly  got  the  upper  hand  and  completely  plundered  me. 

"  One  day,  however,  she  contented  herself  with  greeting  me 
in  a  very  grave  manner,  and  did  not  come  as  usual  to  see 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  337 

whether  the  sweetmeat  fountain  was  still  flowing  in  my  pocket ; 
she  remained  haughtily  on  her  chair,  quite  upright  and  with  her 
elbows  drawn  back. 

" '  Well !  Ninon,'  I  said  to  her,  '  have  you  become  fond  of 
salt  now,  or  are  you  afraid  that  sweets  will  make  your  teeth 
drop  out?'  And  as  I  spoke  I  tapped  the  box,  which  gave 
forth  the  most  honeyed  and  sugary  sound  in  the  world  from 
beneath  my  jacket. 

"  She  put  her  little  tongue  half  way  out  on  the  edge  of  her 
lips  as  though  to  taste  the  ideal  sweetness  of  the  absent  bon-bon, 
but  she  did  not  stir. 

"  Then  I  drew  the  box  from  my  pocket,  opened  it,  and 
began  religiously  to  swallow  the  burnt  almonds  of  which  she 
was  especially  fond :  the  greedy  instinct  was  for  a  moment 
stronger  than  her  resolution ;  she  put  out  her  hand  to  take 
some  and  drew  it  back  again  immediately,  saying,  '  I  am  too 
big  to  eat  sweets  ! '  And  she  heaved  a  sigh. 

u  '  It  did  not  strike  me  that  you  had  grown  very  much  since 
last  week;  you  must  be  like  the  mushrooms  which  spring  up 
in  a  night.  Come  and  let  me  measure  you.' 

"  '  Laugh  as  much  as  you  like,'  she  rejoined  with  a  charming 
pout ;  '  I  am  no  longer  a  little  girl,  and  I  want  to  grow  very  big.' 

"  '  Your  resolutions  are  excellent,  and  should  be  adhered  to ; 
but  might  it  be  known,  my  dear  young  lady,  what  has  caused 
these  lofty  ideas  to  come  into  your  head  ?  For,  a  week  ago, 
you  appeared  quite  content  to  be  small,  and  craunched  your 
burnt  almonds  without  caring  very  much  about  compromising 
your  dignity.' 

"The  little  creature  looked  at  me  in  a  singular  manner, 
glanced  around  her,  and,  when  she  had  quite  satisfied  herself 
that  no  one  could  hear  us,  leaned  over  towards  me  in  a  mysterious 
fashion  and  said  : 

"  '  I  have  a  lover.' 

"  '  The  deuce  !  I  am  no  longer  surprised  that  you  have 
ceased  to  care  for  lozenges ;  you  were  wrong,  however,  not  tc 
take  some,  for  you  might  have  had  a  doll's  dinner-party  with 
him,  or  exchanged  them  for  a  shuttlecock.' 


338  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

"  The  child  made  a  scornful  movement  with  her  shoulders 
and  appeared  to  look  upon  me  with  perfect  contempt.  As 
she  continued  to  maintain  her  attitude  of  an  offended  queen, 
I  continued : 

"  '  What  is  the  name  of  this  glorious  personage  ?  Arthur,  I 
suppose,  or  else  Henry.'  These  were  two  little  boys  with 
whom  she  used  to  play,  and  whom  she  called  her  husbands. 

"  '  No,  neither  Arthur  nor  Henry,'  she  said,  fixing  her  clear, 
transparent  eye  upon  me,  '  a  gentleman.'  She  raised  her  hand 
above  her  head  to  give  me  an  idea  of  height. 

"  '  As  tall  as  that  ?  Why,  this  is  getting  serious.  And  who 
is  this  tall  lover  ? ' 

" '  Monsieur  Theodore,  I  will  tell  you,  but  you  must  not  speak 
about  it  to  any  one,  neither  to  mamma,  or  Polly  (her  gover- 
ness), or  your  friends  who  think  me  a  child  and  would  make 
fun  of  me.' 

"  I  promised  the  most  inviolable  secrecy,  for  I  was  very 
curious  to  know  who  the  gallant  personage  was,  and  the  child, 
seeing  that  I  was  making  fun  of  the  matter,  hesitated  to  take 
me  entirely  into  her  confidence. 

"  Reassured  by  the  word  of  honour  that  I  gave  her  to  be 
carefully  silent  about  it,  she  left  her  easy-chair,  came  and 
leaned  over  the  back  of  mine,  and  whispered  the  name  of  the 
beloved  prince  very  softly  in  my  ear. 

"  I  was  confounded  :  it  was  the  Chevalier  de  G ,  a  dirty, 

intractable  animal,  with  the  morals  of  a  schoolmaster  and  the 
physique  of  a  drum-major,  the  most  intemperate  debauchee  of 
a  man  that  could  possibly  be  seen,  a  genuine  satyr,  minus  the 
goat's  feet  and  the  pointed  ears.  This  inspired  me  with  grave 
apprehensions  for  dear  Ninon,  and  I  made  up  my  mind  to  put 
the  matter  to  rights. 

"  Some  people  came  in,  and  the  conversation  dropped. 

"  I  withdrew  into  a  corner  and  searched  my  brain  for  the 
means  of  preventing  things  from  going  further,  for  it  would 
have  been  quite  a  sin  for  so  delicious  a  creature  to  fall  to  such 
an  arrant  scoundrel. 

"  The  little  one's  mother  was  a  kind  of  courtesan  who  kept 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  339 

gaming  tables  and  had  a  literary  salon.  Bad  verses  were  read 
at  her  house  and  good  money  lost,  which  was  a  compensation. 
She  had  not  much  love  for  her  daughter,  who  was,  to  her,  a 
sort  of  living  baptismal  certificate  which  prevented  her  falsifying 
her  chronology.  Besides,  the  child  was  growing  up,  and  her 
budding  charms  gave  rise  to  comparisons  which  were  not  to 
the  advantage  of  the  prototype,  already  somewhat  worn  by  the 
action  of  years  and  men.  The  child  was  accordingly  rather 
neglected,  and  was  left  defenceless  to  the  enterprises  of  the 
blackguards  who  frequented  the  house.  If  her  mother  had 
taken  any  notice  of  her,  it  would  probably  have  been  only  to 
profit  by  her  youth  and  trade  on  her  beauty  and  innocence.  In 
one  way  or  another  the  fate  that  awaited  her  was  not  in  doubt. 
This  pained  me,  for  she  was  a  charming  little  creature  who  was 
assuredly  deserving  of  better  things,  a  pearl  of  the  finest  water 
lost  in  that  infectious  slough;  the  thought  of  it  affected  me 
so  far  that  I  resolved  to  get  her  at  all  costs  out  of  that  frightful 
house. 

"  The  first  thing  to  be  done  was  to  prevent  the  chevalier 
from  pursuing  his  design.  I  thought  that  the  best  and  simplest 
way  was  to  pick  a  quarrel  with  him  and  make  him  fight  a  duel, 
and  I  had  all  the  trouble  in  the  world  to  do  so,  for  he  is  as 
cowardly  as  he  can  be  and  dreads  blows  more  than  any  one. 
At  last  I  said  so  many  stinging  things  to  him,  that  he  was 
obliged  to  make  up  his  mind  to  come  on  the  ground,  although 
it  was  greatly  against  the  grain.  I  even  threatened  to  have  him 
cudgelled  by  my  footman  if  he  did  not  put  a  better  face  on  it. 
Nevertheless  he  could  handle  his  sword  well  enough,  but  he 
was  so  confused  by  fear  that  we  had  hardly  crossed  our  weapons 
when  I  was  able  to  administer  a  nice  little  thrust  which  sent 
him  to  bed  for  a  fortnight.  This  satisfied  me ;  I  had  no  wish 
to  kill  him,  and  would  as  soon  have  let  him  live  to  be  hanged 
later  on — a  touching  attention  for  which  he  ought  to  have  been 
more  grateful  to  me !  My  rogue  being  stretched  between  a 
pair  of  sheets  and  duly  trussed  with  bandelets,  it  only  remained 
to  induce  the  little  one  to  leave  the  house,  which  was  not 
extremely  difficult. 


340  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

"  I  told  her  a  story  about  her  lover's  disappearance,  which 
was  giving  her  extraordinary  anxiety.  I  informed  her  that  he 
had  gone  off  with  an  actress  belonging  to  the  company  then  at 

C ,  which,  as  you  may  believe,  made  her  very  indignant 

But  I  consoled  her  by  speaking  ill  in  every  way  of  the  chevalier, 
who  was  ugly,  drunken,  and  already  old,  and  I  ended  by  asking 
her  whether  she  would  not  rather  have  me  for  a  wooer.  She 
replied  that  she  would,  because  I  was  handsomer,  and  my 
clothes  were  new.  This  artlessness,  spoken  with  enormous 
seriousness,  made  me  laugh  till  I  cried.  I  turned  the  little 
one's  head  and  succeeded  in  inducing  her  to  leave  the  house. 
A  few  bouquets,  about  as  many  kisses,  and  a  pearl  necklace 
that  I  gave  her,  charmed  her  to  an  extent  difficult  to  describe, 
and  she  assumed  an  important  air  in  the  presence  of  her  little 
friends  which  was  extremely  laughable. 

"  I  had  a  very  rich  and  elegant  page's  costume  of  about  her 
size  made,  for  I  could  not  take  her  away  in  her  girl's  dress, 
unless  I  myself  resumed  female  attire,  which  I  was  unwilling  to 
do.  I  bought  a  pony,  which  was  gentle  and  easy  to  ride, 
and  yet  a  sufficiently  good  courser  to  follow  my  barb  when  it 
was  my  pleasure  to  go  quickly.  Then  I  told  the  fair  one  to  try 
to  come  down  at  dusk  to  the  door,  where  I  would  call  for  her ; 
and  this  she  very  punctually  did.  I  found  her  mounting  guard 
behind  the  half-opened  door.  I  passed  very  close  to  the 
house ;  she  came  out,  I  stretched  out  my  hand  to  her,  she 
rested  her  foot  on  the  tip  of  mine,  and  jumped  very  nimbly 
up  behind  me,  for  she  possessed  marvellous  agility.  I  spurred 
my  horse,  and  succeeded  in  returning  home  through  seven  or 
eight  circuitous  and  deserted  lanes  without  any  one  seeing  us. 

"  I  made  her  exchange  her  clothes  for  her  disguise,  and  my- 
self acted  as  her  maid  ;  at  first  she  made  a  little  fuss,  and  wished 
to  dress  all  alone  ;  but  I  made  her  understand  that  this  would 
waste  a  great  deal  of  time ;  that,  moreover,  being  my  mistress,  it 
was  not  in  the  least  improper,  and  that  such  was  the  custom 
between  lovers.  This  was  quite  enough  to  convince  her,  and 
she  yielded  to  circumstances  with  the  best  grace  in  the  world. 

"  Her  body  was  a  little  marvel  of  delicacy.     Her  arms,  which 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  341 

were  somewhat  thin  like  those  of  every  young  girl,  had  inex- 
pressible sweetness  of  line,  and  her  budding  breasts  gave  such 
charming  promise,  that  none  better  developed  could  have  sus- 
tained a  comparison  with  them.  She  had  still  all  the  graces  of 
the  child,  and  already  all  the  charm  of  the  woman ;  she  was  in 
that  adorable  transition  period  when  the  little  girl  is  blended 
with  the  young  girl :  a  blending  fugitive  and  impalpable,  a 
delicious  epoch  when  beauty  is  full  of  hope,  and  when  every 
day,  instead  of  taking  something  from  your  love,  adds  new  per- 
fections to  it. 

"  Her  costume  became  her  extremely  well.  It  gave  her  a 
little  unruly  air,  which  was  very  curious  and  diverting,  and  made 
her  burst  out  laughing  when  I  offered  her  the  glass  to  let  her 
judge  of  the  effect  of  her  toilet.  I  afterwards  made  her  eat 
some  biscuits  dipped  in  Spanish  wine,  in  order  to  give  her 
courage  and  enable  her  better  to  support  the  fatigue  of  the 
journey. 

"  The  horses  were  waiting  ready  saddled  in  the  courtyard ; 
she  mounted  hers  with  some  deliberation,  I  bestrode  the  other, 
and  we  set  out.  Night  had  completely  fallen,  and  occasional 
lights,  which  were  being  extinguished  every  moment,  showed 

that  the  honest  town  of  C was  virtuously  engaged  as  every 

country  town  ought  to  be  on  the  stroke  of  nine. 

"We  could  not  go  very  quickly,  for  Ninon  was  no  better 
horsewoman  than  she  ought  to  have  been,  and  when  her  beast 
began  to  trot  she  would  cling  with  all  her  might  to  his  mane. 
However,  on  the  following  morning  we  were  too  far  away  to  be 
overtaken,  at  all  events  unless  extraordinary  diligence  had  been 
employed  ;  but  we  were  not  pursued,  or  at  least,  if  we  were,  it 
was  in  an  opposite  direction  to  that  which  we  had  taken. 

"  I  was  singularly  interested  in  the  little  fair  one.  I  no 
longer  had  you  with  me,  my  dear  Graciosa,  and  I  was  im- 
mensely sensible  of  the  need  of  loving  somebody  or  some- 
thing, of  having  a  dog  or  a  child  with  me  to  caress  familiarly. 
Ninon  was  this  to  me ;  she  shared  my  bed  and  put  her  little 
arms  around  my  body  to  go  to  sleep ;  she  most  seriously 
thought  herself  my  mistress,  and  had  no  doubt  that  I  was  a 


342  ^MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

man ;  her  great  youth  and  extreme  innocence  preserved  her  in 
this  error  which  I  was  careful  not  to  dissipate.  The  kisses 
that  I  gave  her  quite  completed  her  illusion,  for  her  ideas  went, 
as  yet,  no  further,  and  her  desires  did  not  speak  loudly  enough 
to  cause  her  to  suspect  anything  else.  After  all,  she  was  only 
partly  mistaken. 

"And,  really,  there  was  the  same  difference  between  her  and 
me,  as  there  is  between  myself  and  men.  She  was  so  diaphanous, 
so  slender,  so  light,  of  so  delicate  and  choice  a  nature,  that  she 
was  a  woman  even  to  me  who  am  myself  a  woman,  and  who  look 
like  a  Hercules  beside  her.  I  am  tall  and  dark,  she  is  small 
and  blonde  ;  her  features  are  so  soft  that  they  make  mine 
appear  almost  hard  and  austere,  and  her  voice  is  so  melodious 
a  warble  that  mine  seems  harsh  in  comparison.  If  a  man  had 
her  he  would  break  her  in  pieces,  and  I  always  feel  afraid  thai 
the  wind  will  carry  her  off  some  fine  morning.  I  should  like  to 
enclose  her  in  a  box  of  cotton  and  wear  her  hanging  about  my 
neck.  You  can  have  no  conception,  my  dear  friend,  of  her 
grace  and  wit,  her  delicious  coaxing,  her  childlike  endearments, 
her  little  ways  and  pretty  manners.  She  is  the  most  adorable 
creature  in  existence,  and  it  would  have  been  truly  a  pity  had 
she  remained  with  her  unworthy  mother. 

"  I  took  a  malicious  joy  in  thus  depriving  men's  rapacity  of 
such  a  treasure.  I  was  the  griffin  preventing  all  approach,  and, 
if  I  did  not  enjoy  her  myself,  at  least  no  one  else  enjoyed 
her — an  idea  which  is  always  consoling,  let  all  the  foolish 
detractors  of  egotism  say  what  they  will. 

"  I  intended  to  preserve  her  in  her  ignorance  as  long  as 
possible,  and  to  keep  her  with  me  until  she  was  unwilling  to 
stay  any  longer,  or  I  had  succeeded  in  securing  a  settlement 
for  her. 

"In  her  boy's  dress  I  took  her  on  all  my  journeys,  right  and 
left ;  this  mode  of  life  gave  her  singular  pleasure,  and  the 
charm  that  she  found  in  it  assisted  her  to  endure  its  fatigues. 
Everywhere  I  was  complimented  on  the  exquisite  beauty  of  my 
page,  and  I  have  no  doubt  that  it  gave  many  people  a  precisely 
contrary  idea  of  what  was  actually  the  case.  Several  even 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN 

tried  to  unravel  the  mystery ;  but  I  did  not  allow  the  little 
one  to  speak  to  anybody,  and  the  curious  were  completely 
disappointed. 

"  Every  day  I  discovered  some  new  quality  in  this  amiable 
child  which  made  me  cherish  her  more  and  congratulate 
myself  on  the  resolution  I  had  taken.  Assuredly  men  were 
not  worthy  to  possess  her,  and  it  would  have  been  a  deplor- 
able thing  if  so  many  bodily  and  spiritual  charms  had  been 
surrendered  to  their  brutal  appetites  and  cynical  depravity. 

"  Only  a  woman  could  love  her  with  sufficient  delicacy  and 
tenderness.  One  side  of  my  character,  which  could  not  have 
been  developed  in  a  different  connection  and  which  was  com 
pletely  brought  out  in  the  present  one,  is  the  need  and  desire 
of  affording  protection,  a  duty  which  usually  belongs  to  men.  If 
I  had  taken  a  lover  it  would  have  displeased  me  extremely  to 
find  him  assuming  to  defend  me,  for  the  reason  that  this  is  an 
attention  I  love  to  show  to  those  whom  I  like,  and  that  my 
pride  is  much  better  suited  with  the  first  role  than  with  the 
second,  although  the  second  may  be  more  agreeable.  Thus  I 
felt  pleased  in  paying  my  little  darling  all  the  attentions  which 
I  ought  to  have  liked  to  receive,  such  as  assisting  her  on  difficult 
roads,  holding  her  bridle  or  stirrup,  serving  her  at  table,  un- 
dressing her  and  putting  her  to  bed,  defending  her  if  any  one 
insulted  her ;  in  short,  doing  everything  for  her  that  the  most 
impassioned  and  attentive  lover  does  for  a  mistress  he  adores. 

"  I  was  insensibly  losing  the  idea  of  my  sex,  and  it  was  with 
difficulty  that  I  remembered,  at  considerable  intervals,  that  I 
was  a  woman ;  at  first  I  often  forgot  myself,  and  unthinkingly 
said  something  that  did  not  harmonise  with  the  coat  I  wore. 
Now  this  never  happens,  and  even  when  writing  to  you,  to  you 
who  are  in  my  secret,  I  sometimes  preserve  a  useless  virility  in 
my  adjectives.  If  ever  I  take  a  fancy  to  go  and  look  for  my 
skirts  in  the  drawer  where  I  left  them  — which  I  think  ver) 
doubtful,  unless  I  fall  in  love  with  some  young  spark — I  shall 
find  it  difficult  to  lose  these  habits,  and,  instead  of  being  a 
woman  disguised  as  a  man,  I  shall  look  like  a  man  disguised  as 
a  woman.  In  truth,  neither  of  the  two  sexes  are  mine  ;  I  have 


.$44  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

not  the  imbecile  submission,  the  timidity  or  the  littleness  of 
women  ;  I  have  not  the  vices,  the  disgusting  intemperance,  or 
the  brutal  propensities  of  men  :  I  belong  to  a  third,  distinct  sex. 
which  as  yet  has  no  name :  higher  or  lower,  more  defective  or 
superior ;  I  have  the  body  and  soul  of  a  woman,  the  mind  and 
power  of  a  man,  and  I  have  too  much  or  too  little  of  both  to 
be  able  to  pair  with  either. 

"  O  Graciosa  !  I  shall  never  be  able  to  completely  love  any 
one,  man  or  woman ;  an  unsated  something  ever  chides  within 
me,  and  the  lover  or  friend  answers  only  to  a  single  aspect  of 
my  character.  If  I  had  a  lover,  the  feminine  element  in  me 
would  doubtless  for  a  time  dominate  over  the  manly,  but  this 
would  not  last  for  long,  and  I  feel  that  I  should  be  only  half 
satisfied ;  if  I  have  a  friend,  the  idea  of  corporeal  voluptuous- 
ness prevents  me  from  tasting  entirely  the  pure  voluptuousness 
of  the  soul ;  so  that  I  know  not  where  to  rest,  and  perpetually 
waver  from  one  to  the  other. 

"  My  chimera  would  be  to  have  both  sexes  in  turn  in  order 
to  satisfy  this  double  nature  :  a  man  to-day,  a  woman  to-morrow, 
for  my  lovers  I  should  keep  my  languorous  tenderness,  my  sub- 
missive and  devoted  ways,  my  softest  caresses,  my  little  sadly- 
drawn  sighs,  all  the  cat-like  and  woman-like  elements  in  my 
character;  then  with  my  mistresses  I  should  be  enterprising,  bold, 
impassioned,  with  triumphant  manners,  my  hat  on  my  ear,  and 
the  style  of  a  boaster  and  adventurer.  My  nature  would  thus 
be  entirely  brought  out,  and  I  should  be  perfectly  happy,  for 
true  happiness  consists  in  the  ability  to  develop  freely  in  every 
direction  and  to  be  all  that  it  is  possible  to  be. 

"  But  these  are  impossibilities,  and  are  not  to  be  thought  of. 

"  I  had  carried  off  the  child  with  the  idea  of  deluding  my 
propensities  and  turning  upon  some  one  all  the  vague  ten- 
derness which  floats  in  my  soul  and  floods  it ;  I  had  taken  her 
as  a  sort  of  escape  for  my  loving  faculties ;  but  I  soon  recog- 
nised, in  spite  of  all  the  affection  that  I  bore  her,  what  an 
immense  void,  what  a  bottomless  abyss  she  lelt  in  my  heart, 
and  how  little  her  tenderest  caresses  contented  me  !  I  resolved 
to  try  a  lover,  but  a  long  time  passed  and  I  met  no  one  who  did 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  345 

not  displease  me.  I  forgot  to  tell  you  that  Rosette,  having 
discovered  whither  I  was  gone,  had  written  me  the  most  be- 
seeching letter  to  go  and  see  her ;  I  could  not  refuse  her,  and  I 
met  her  again  at  a  country  house  where  she  was.  I  returned 
there  several  times,  and  even  quite  lately.  Rosette,  in  despair 
at  not  having  had  me  for  her  lover,  had  thrown  herself  into  the 
whirl  of  society  and  dissipation,  like  all  tender  souls  that  are  not 
religious  and  that  have  been  wounded  in  their  first  love ;  she 
had  had  many  adventures  in  a  short  time,  and  the  list  of  her 
conquests  was  already  very  numerous,  for  every  one  had  not 
the  same  reasons  for  resisting  her  that  I  had. 

"  She  had  with  her  a  young  man  named  D' Albert,  who  was 
at  the  time  her  established  lover.  I  appeared  to  make  quite  a 
peculiar  impression  upon  him,  and  at  the  very  first  he  took  a 
strong  liking  to  me. 

"  Although  he  treated  Rosette  with  great  deference,  and  his 
manners  towards  her  were  in  the  main  tender  enough,  he  did 
not  love  her, — not  owing  to  satiety  or  distaste,  but  rather  because 
she  did  not  correspond  to  certain  ideas,  true  or  false,  which  he 
had  formed  concerning  love  and  beauty.  An  ideal  cloud  inter- 
posed between  him  and  her,  and  prevented  him  from  being 
as  happy  as  otherwise  he  must  have  been.  Evidently  his  dream 
was  not  fulfilled,  and  he  sighed  for  something  else.  But  he  did 
not  seek  for  it,  and  remained  faithful  to  the  bonds  which 
weighed  on  him ;  for  he  has  more  delicacy  and  honour  in  his 
soul  than  most  men,  and  his  heart  is  very  far  from  being  as 
corrupted  as  his  mind.  Not  knowing  that  Rosette  had  never 
been  in  love  except  with  me,  and  that  she  was  so  still,  in  spite 
of  all  her  intrigues  and  follies,  he  had  a  dread  of  distressing  her 
by  letting  her  see  that  he  did  not  love  her.  It  was  this  consi- 
deration that  restrained  him,  and  he  was  sacrificing  himself 
in  the  most  generous  way. 

"The  character  of  my  features  gave  him  extraordinary 
pleasure,  for  he  attaches  extreme  importance  to  external  form ; 
so  much  so  that  he  fell  in  love  with  me  in  spite  of  my  male 
attire  and  the  formidable  rapier  which  I  wear  at  my  side.  I 
confess  that  I  was  grateful  to  him  for  the  acuteness  of  his 

Y 


346  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

instinct,  and  that  I  held  him  in  some  esteem  for  having  dis- 
tinguished me  beneath  these  delusive  appearances.  At  the 
beginning  he  believed  himself  endowed  with  a  fancy  far  more 
depraved  than  it  really  was,  and  I  laughed  inwardly  to  see 
him  torment  himself  in  this  way.  Sometimes,  when  accosting 
me,  he  had  a  frightened  look  which  amused  me  immensely, 
and  the  very  natural  inclination  which  drew  him  towards  me 
appeared  to  him  as  a  diabolical  impulse  which  could  not  be 
too  strongly  resisted.  On  such  occasions  he  would  fall  back 
furiously  upon  Rosette,  and  endeavour  to  recover  more  ortho- 
dox habits  of  love ;  then  he  would  come  back  to  me,  of  course 
more  inflamed  than  before. 

"  Then  the  luminous  idea  that  I  might  perhaps  be  a  woman 
crept  into  his  mind.  To  convince  himself  of  this  he  set  himsell 
to  observe  and  study  me  with  the  minutest  attention  ;  he  must 
be  acquainted  with  every  particular  hair,  and  know  accurately 
how  many  eyelashes  I  have  on  my  lids ;  feet,  hands,  neck, 
cheeks,  the  slightest  down  at  the  corner  of  my  lips,  he  exa- 
mined, compared,  and  analysed  them  all,  and  from  this  in- 
vestigation, in  which  the  artist  aided  the  lover,  it  came  out  as 
clear  as  day  (when  it  is  clear),  that  I  was  well  and  duly  a  woman, 
and,  moreover,  his  ideal,  the  type  of  his  beauty,  the  reality  of 
his  dream ; — a  wonderful  discovery  ! 

"  It  only  remained  to  soften  me,  and  obtain  the  gift  of 
amorous  mercy,  to  completely  establish  my  sex.  A  comedy 
which  we  acted,  and  in  which  I  appeared  as  a  woman,  quite 
decided  him.  I  gave  him  some  equivocal  glances,  and  made 
use  of  some  passages  in  my  part,  analogous  to  our  own  situa- 
tion, to  embolden  him  and  impel  him  to  declare  himself.  For, 
if  I  did  not  passionately  love  him,  he  pleased  me  well  enough 
not  to  let  him  pine  away  with  love  ;  and,  as  he  was  the  first  since 
my  transformation  to  suspect  that  I  was  a  woman,  it  was  quite 
fair  that  I  should  enlighten  him  on  this  important  point,  and 
I  was  resolved  not  to  leave  him  a  shadow  of  doubt. 

•'  Several  limes  he  came  into  my  room  with  his  declaration 
on  his  lips,  but  he  dared  not  utter  it ;  for,  indeed,  it  is  diffi- 
cult to  speak  of  love  to  one  who  is  dressed  like  yourself,  and 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  347 

is  trying  on  riding  boots.  At  last,  unable  to  take  it  upon 
himself  to  do  this,  he  wrote  me  a  long,  very  Pindaric  letter,  in 
which  he  explained  to  me  at  great  length  what  I  knew  better 
than  he  did. 

"  I  do  not  quite  know  what  I  ought  to  do.  Admit  his  request 
or  reject  it, — the  latter  would  be  immoderately  virtuous;  besides, 
his  grief  at  finding  himself  refused  would  be  too  great :  if  we 
make  people  who  love  us  unhappy,  what  are  we  to  do  to  those 
who  hate  us  ?  Perhaps  it  would  be  more  strictly  becoming  to 
be  cruel  for  a  time,  and  wait  at  least  a  month  before  unhooking 
the  tigress's  skin  to  dress  after  the  human  fashion  in  a  chemise. 
But,  since  I  have  resolved  to  yield  to  him,  immediately  is  as  good 
as  later;  I  do  not  well  understand  those  mathematically  gradu- 
ated resistances  which  surrender  one  hand  to-day,  the  other  to- 
morrow, then  the  waist  and  the  neck,  and  next  submit  the  lips 
to  a  lover's  kisses;  nor  those  intractable  virtues  which  are 
always  ready  to  hang  themselves  to  the  bell-rope  if  you  pass 
by  a  hair's-breadth  beyond  the  territory  which  they  have  re- 
solved to  grant  on  that  day.  It  makes  me  laugh  to  see  those 
methodical  Lucretias  walking  backwards  with  the  tokens  of  the 
most  maidenly  terror,  and  from  time  to  time  casting  a  furtive 
glance  over  their  shoulder  to  make  sure  that  the  sofa  on  which 
they  are  to  faint  is  quite  directly  behind  them.  I  could  never 
be  as  careful  as  that. 

"  I  do  not  love  D'Albert,  at  least  in  the  sense  which  I  give 
to  the  word,  but  I  have  certainly  a  liking  and  an  inclination  for 
him ;  his  mind  pleases  me  and  his  person  does  not  repel  me  r 
there  are  not  many  people  of  whom  I  can  say  as  much.  He 
has  not  everything,  but  he  has  something ;  what  pleases  me 
in  him  is  that  he  does  not  seek  to  satiate  himself  brutally  like 
other  men  ;  he  has  a  perpetual  aspiration  and  an  ever  sustained 
breathing  after  beauty, — after  material  beauty  alone,  it  is  true, 
but  still  it  is  a  noble  inclination,  and  one  which  is  sufficient 
to  keep  him  in  pure  regions.  His  conduct  towards  Rosette 
proves  honesty  of  heart,  an  honesty  rarer  than  the  other,  if  that 
be  possible. 

"  And  then,  if  I  must  tell  you,  I  am  possessed  with  the  most 


34»  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

violent  desires, — I  am  languishing  and  dying  of  voluptuousness ; 
for  the  dress  I  wear,  while  involving  me  in  all  sorts  of  adven- 
tures with  women,  protects  me  only  too  perfectly  against  the 
enterprises  of  men ;  an  idea  of  pleasure  which  is  never  realised 
floats  vaguely  through  my  head,  and  this  dull,  colourless  dream 
wearies  and  annoys  me.  So  many  women  placed  amid  the 
chastest  surroundings  lead  the  most  immoral  lives,  while  I,  by 
a  somewhat  facetious  contrast,  remain  chaste  and  virgin  like 
cold  Diana  herself,  in  the  midst  of  the  most  disordered  dis- 
sipation and  surrounded  by  the  greatest  debauchees  of  the 
century. 

"  This  bodily  ignorance  unaccompanied  by  ignorance  of  the 
mind  is  the  most  miserable  thing  in  existence.  That  my  flesh 
may  have  no  cause  to  assume  airs  over  my  soul,  I  am  anxious 
to  know  a  man  completely  and  all  that  his  love  is  capable  of. 
Since  D'Albert  has  recognised  me  beneath  my  disguise,  it  is  quite 
fair  that  he  should  be  rewarded  for  his  penetration  ;  he  was  the 
first  to  divine  that  I  was  a  woman,  and  I  shall  prove  to  him  to 
the  best  of  my  ability  that  his  suspicions  were  well  founded.  I' 
would  be  scarcely  charitable  to  let  him  believe  that  his  fancj 
was  solely  a  monstrous  one. 

"  D'Albert  it  is,  then,  who  will  solve  my  doubts  and  give  me 
my  first  lesson  in  love  :  the  only  question  now  is  to  bring  the 
matter  about  in  quite  a  poetical  fashion.  I  am  inclined  not  to 
reply  to  his  letter  and  to  look  coldly  on  him  for  a  few  days. 
When  I  see  him  very  sad  and  despairing,  inveighing  against  the 
gods,  shaking  his  fist  at  creation,  and  looking  down  the  wells  to 
see  whether  they  are  not  too  deep  to  throw  himself  into  them, 
— I  shall  retire  like  Peau  d'Ane  to  the  end  of  the  corridor,  and 
put  on  my  light-blue  dress,  that  is  to  say  my  costume  as 
Rosalind  ;  for  my  feminine  wardrobe  is  very  limited.  Then  I 
shall  go  to  him  as  radiant  as  a  peacock  displaying  its  feathers, 
with  but  a  very  low  and  loose  lace  tucker,  partially  unveiling 
those  attractions  which  I  usually  conceal  with  the  greatest 
care,  and  shall  say  to  him  in  the  most  pathetic  tone  that  I 
can  assume — 

" '  O  most  elegiac  and  perspicacious  young  man !  I  am  truly 


MADEMOISELLE  DE   MAUPIN.  349 

a  young  and  modest  beauty,  one  who  adores  you  into  the 
bargain,  and  humbly  asks  to  share  your  pleasures  with  you. 
Tell  me  whether  this  suits  you,  or  if  you  feel  any  scruples  in 
according  her  what  she  wishes. 

"  This  fine  discourse  ended,  I  shall  let  myself  fall  half- 
swooning  into  his  arms,  and,  heaving  melancholy  sighs,  shall 
skilfully  cause  the  hook  of  my  dress  to  come  undone  so  that  I 
shall  still  further  disclose  certain  of  my  charms.  The  rest  I 
shall  leave  to  chance,  and  I  hope  that  on  the  following 
morning  I  shall  know  what  to  think  of  all  those  fine  things 
which  have  been  troubling  my  brain  for  so  long.  While  satis- 
fying my  curiosity,  I  shall  have  the  farther  pleasure  of  making 
some  one  happy. 

"  I  also  propose  to  go  and  pay  a  visit  to  Rosette  in  the  same 
costume,  and  to  show  her  that,  if  I  have  not  responded  to  her 
love,  it  was  not  from  coldness  or  distaste.  I  do  not  wish  her 
to  preserve  such  a  bad  opinion  of  me,  and  she  deserves,  equally 
with  D'Albcrt,  that  I  should  betray  my  incognito  in  her  favour. 
How  will  she  look  at  this  revelation  ?  Her  pride  will  be  con- 
soled by  it,  but  her  love  will  lament  it. 

"  Good-bye,  most  fair  and  good  one ;  pray  to  heaven  that  I 
may  not  think  as  little  of  the  pleasure  as  I  do  of  those  who 
afford  it.  I  have  jested  throughout  this  letter,  and  yet  what  I 
am  going  to  essay  is  a  serious  matter  and  something  which  may 
affect  the  rest  of  my  life." 


XVI. 


T  was  already  more  than  a  fortnight  since  D'Alben 
had  laid  his  amorous  epistle  on  Theodore's  table, 
and  yet  there  seemed  to  be  no  change  in  the 
manner  of  the  latter.  D' Albert  did  not  know  how 
to  account  for  this  silence ;  one  would  have  imagined  thai 
Theodore  had  had  no  knowledge  of  the  letter;  the  rueful 
D'Albert  thought  that  it  had  gone  astray  or  been  lost ;  yet  this 
was  difficult  of  explanation,  for  Theodore  had  re-entered  his 
room  a  moment  afterwards,  and  it  would  have  been  very  extra- 
ordinary if  he  had  not  perceived  a  large  paper  placed  quite  by 
itself  in  the  middle  of  a  table  so  as  to  attract  the  notice  of 
the  most  inattentive. 

Or  was  Theodore  perhaps  really  a  man  and  not  a  woman  at 
all,  as  D'Albert  had  imagined  to  himself?  or,  supposing  her  a 
woman,  had  she  so  decided  a  feeling  of  aversion  to  him,  or 
such  a  contempt  for  him  that  she  would  not  condescend  even 
to  take  the  trouble  of  giving  him  a  reply  ?  The  poor  young 
man  who  had  not,  like  ourselves,  the  advantage  of  searching 
the  portfolio  of  Graciosa,  the  confidante  of  the  fair  Made- 
moiselle de  Maupin,  was  not  in  a  position  to  decide  any  of 
these  important  questions  either  in  the  affirmative  or  in  the 
negative,  and  he  was  mournfully  wavering  in  the  most  wretched 
irresolution. 

One  evening  he  was  in  his  room,  his  brow  pressed  with 
melancholy  against  the  window-pane,  and  was  looking,  without 
seeing  them,  at  the  already  bare  and  reddened  chestnut-trees  in 
the  park.  The  distance  was  bathed  in  a  thick  mist,  a  grey 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  351 

rather  than  black  night  was  falling,  and  cautiously  placing  its 
velvety  feet  on  the  summits  of  the  trees ;  a  large  swan  was 
amorously  dipping  and  redipping  its  neck  and  shoulders  in  the 
steaming  water  of  the  river,  and  its  whiteness  made  it  appear 
in  the  shadow  like  a  large  star  of  snow.  It  was  the  only  living 
thing  to  give  a  little  animation  to  the  gloomy  landscape. 

D' Albert  was  thinking  as  sadly  as  a  disappointed  man  can 
think  at  five  o'clock  on  a  misty  autumn  evening  with  a  some- 
what sharp  north  wind  for  music,  and  the  wigless  skeleton  of  a 
forest  for  a  prospect. 

He  thought  of  throwing  himself  into  the  river,  but  the 
water  seemed  very  black  and  cold  to  him,  and  the  swan's 
example  only  half  persuaded  him ;  of  blowing  his  brains  out, 
but  he  had  neither  pistol  nor  powder,  and  he  would  have  been 
very  sorry  to  have  had  them;  of  taking  a  new  mistress,  or, 
sinister  resolution,  even  two  !  but  he  knew  none  who  would  suit 
him,  even  none  who  would  not  suit  him.  In  his  despair  he  went 
so  far  as  to  wish  to  resume  his  connection  with  women  who 
were  perfectly  insupportable  to  him,  and  whom  he  had  had 
horsewhipped  out  of  his  house  by  his  footman.  He  ended 
by  resolving  upon  something  much  more  frightful, — to  write  a 
second  letter. 

O  sextuple  booby ! 

He  was  at  this  stage  in  his  meditations,  when  he  felt  a  hand 
place  itself  on  his  shoulder,  like  a  little  dove  descending  on  a  palm- 
tree.  The  comparison  halts  somewhat  inasmuch  as  D'Albert's 
shoulder  bore  a  very  slight  resemblance  to  a  palm-tree ;  but,  all 
the  same,  we  shall  keep  it  in  a  spirit  of  pure  Orientalism. 

The  hand  was  at  the  extremity  of  an  arm  which  corre- 
sponded to  a  shoulder  forming  part  of  a  body,  which  was 
nothing  else  but  Theodore-Rosalind,  Mademoiselle  d'Aubigny, 
or  Madelaine  de  Maupin,  to  call  her  by  her  real  name. 

Who  was  astonished  ?  Neither  I  nor  you,  for  you  and  I  had 
long  been  prepared  for  this  visit ;  but  D'Albert  who  had  not 
been  expecting  it  in  the  least.  He  gave  a  little  cry  of  surprise 
half-way  between  oh  !  and  ah !  Nevertheless  [  have  the  best 
reasons  for  believing  that  it  was  more  like  ah  !  than  oh ! 


352  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

It  was  indeed  Rosalind,  so  beautiful  and  radiant  that  she  lit 
up  the  whole  room,  with  her  strings  of  pearls  in  her  hair,  her 
prismatic  dress,  her  laces,  her  red-heeled  shoes,  her  handsome 
fan  of  peacock's  plumes,  such,  in  short,  as  she  had  been  on  the 
day  of  the  performance.  Only, — and  this  was  an  important  and 
decisive  difference, — she  wore  neither  gorget,  nor  chemisette, 
nor  ruff,  nor  anything  that  effectually  hided  those  two  charming 
unfriendly  brothers,  who,  alas !  have  only  too  often  a  tendency 
to  become  reconciled. 

A  lovely,  panting  bosom,  white,  transparent,  like  an  ancient 
marble,  of  the  purest  and  most  exquisite  cut,  projected  boldly 
from  a  very  low  dress  body,  and  seemed  to  bid  defiance  to  kisses. 
It  was  a  most  reassuring  sight ;  accordingly  D'Albert  was  very 
^icKly  reassured,  and  he  abandoned  himself  in  all  confidence 
to  his  most  disorderly  emotions. 

"  Well !  Orlando,  do  you  not  recognise  your  Rosalind  ? " 
said  the  fair  one  with  the  most  charming  smile ;  "  or  have  you, 
perhaps,  left  your  love  hanging  with  your  sonnets  on  some 
bushes  in  the  forest  of  Arden  ?  Are  you  really  cured  of  the 
sickness  for  which  you  requested  a  remedy  from  me  with  such 
earnestness  ?  I  am  very  much  afraid  so." 

"  Oh  no !  Rosalind,  I  am  more  sick  than  ever.  I  am  in 
extremity ;  I  am  dead,  or  very  nearly ! " 

"  You  have  not  a  bad  appearance  for  a  dead  man ;  many 
living  persons  do  not  look  so  well." 

"  What  a  week  I  have  spent !  You  cannot  imagine  it, 
Rosalind.  I  hope  that  it  will  be  equivalent  to  a  thousand 
years  of  purgatory  to  me  in  the  next  world.  But,  if  I  dare  ask 
you,  why  did  you  not  reply  to  me  sooner  ?  " 

"  Why  ?  I  scarcely  know,  unless  it  be  just  because  I  did 
not.  However,  if  this  motive  does  not  appear  a  valid  one  to 
you,  here  are  three  others  not  nearly  so  good,  from  which  you 
shall  choose :  first,  because  carried  away  by  your  passion  you 
forgot  to  write  legibly,  and  it  took  me  more  than  a  week  to 
make  out  what  your  letter  was  about;  next,  because  my 
modesty  could  not  reconcile  itself  in  a  shorter  time  to  such  an 
absurd  idea  as  to  take  a  dithyrambic  poet  for  a  lover ;  and  then 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  353 

because  I  was  not  sorry  to  see  whether  you  would  blow  your 
brains  out,  or  poison  yourself  with  opium,  or  hang  yourself  with 
your  garter.  There  ! " 

"  Naughty  banterer !  I  assure  you  that  you  have  done  well 
to  come  to-day,  for  perhaps  you  would  not  have  found  me 
to-morrow." 

'•'  Really  !  poor  fellow !  Do  not  assume  such  a  doleful  air, 
for  I  should  also  be  affected,  and  that  would  make  me  more 
stupid  in  myself  alone  than  all  the  animals  that  were  in  the  ark 
with  the  deceased  Noah.  If  once  I  open  the  sluice  for  my  sen- 
sibility, I  warn  you  that  you  will  be  drowned.  Just  now  I  gave 
you  three  bad  reasons,  I  now  offer  you  three  good  kisses ;  will 
you  accept  them,  on  the  condition  that  you  forget  the  reasons 
for  the  kisses  ?  I  owe  you  quite  as  much  as  that  and  more." 

As  she  uttered  these  words  the  fair  infanta  advanced  towards 
the  mournful  lover,  and  threw  her  beautiful  bare  arms  round  his 
neck.  D'Albert  kissed  her  effusively  on  the  cheeks  and  mouth. 
This  last  kiss  had  a  longer  duration  than  the  others,  and  might 
have  been  counted  as  four.  Rosalind  saw  that  all  that  she  had 
done  until  then  had  been  only  pure  childishness.  Her  debt 
discharged,  she  sat  down,  still  greatly  moved,  on  D'Albert's 
knees,  and,  passing  her  fingers  through  his  hair,  she  said  to 
him — 

"  All  my  cruelties  are  exhausted,  sweet  friend ;  I  took  the 
fortnight  to  satisfy  my  natural  ferocity ;  I  will  confess  to  you 
that  I  found  it  long.  Don't  become  a  coxcomb  because  I  am 
frank,  but  it  is  true.  I  place  myself  in  your  hands,  revenge 
yourself  for  my  past  harshness.  If  you  were  a  fool  I  should 
not  say  this,  or  even  anything  else  to  you,  for  I  do  not  like 
fools.  It  would  have  been  very  easy  for  me  to  make  you 
believe  that  I  was  prodigiously  shocked  by  your  boldness,  and 
that  all  your  Platonic  sighs  and  your  most  quintessential  non- 
sense were  not  sufficient  to  procure  you  forgiveness  for  a  thing  of 
which  I  was  very  glad ;  I  might,  like  another,  have  bargained  with 
you  for  a  long  time  and  retailed  to  you  what  I  am  now  granting 
you  freely  and  at  once ;  but  I  do  not  think  that  this  would  have 
increased  your  love  for  me  by  the  thickness  of  a  single  hair. 


354  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

"  I  do  not  ask  of  you  an  oath  of  eternal  love  nor  any  exag- 
gerated protestation.  Love  me  as  much  as  heaven  ordains 
— I  will  do  as  much  on  my  side.  I  will  not  call  you  a  traitor 
or  a  wretch  when  you  have  ceased  to  love  me.  You  will 
also  have  the  kindness  to  spare  me  the  corresponding  odious 
titles,  should  I  happen  to  leave  you.  I  shall  be  merely  a 
woman  who  has  ceased  to  love  you, — nothing  more.  It  is  not 
necessary  to  hate  each  other  all  through  life  because  of  a  night 
or  two  passed  together.  Whatever  may  happen,  and  wherever 
destiny  may  drive  me,  I  swear  to  you,  and  this  is  a  promise 
that  can  be  kept,  that  I  shall  always  preserve  a  charming  re- 
collection of  you,  and,  that  if  I  am  no  longer  your  mistress,  I 
shall  be  your  friend  as  I  have  been  your  comrade.  For  you 
I  have  laid  aside  my  male  attire  to-night ;  I  shall  resume  it 
to-morrow  for  all.  Think  that  I  am  only  Rosalind  at  night, 
and  that  throughout  the  day  I  am  and  can  be  only  Theodore 
de  Sdrannes " 

The  sentence  she  was  about  to  utter  was  stifled  by  a  kiss 
followed  by  many  others,  which  were  no  longer  counted  and 
of  which  we  shall  not  give  an  exact  catalogue,  because  it  would 
certainly  be  rather  tedious  and  perhaps  very  immoral — for  some 
people ;  as  to  ourselves,  we  think  nothing  more  moral  and 
sacred  under  heaven  than  the  caresses  of  man  and  woman,  when 
both  are  handsome  and  young. 

As  D'Albert's  importunities  became  more  amorous  and  eager, 
Theodore's  beautiful  face,  instead  of  being  smiling  and  radiant, 
assumed  an  expression  of  proud  melancholy  which  caused  her 
lover  some  disquiet. 

"  Why,  dear  sovereign,  have  you  the  chaste  and  serious  air 
of  an  antique  Diana  now,  when  we  should  rather  have  the 
smiling  lips  of  Venus  rising  from  the  sea  ?  " 

"  You  see,  D' Albert,  it  is  because  I  am  more  like  the  huntress 
Diana  than  anything  else.  When  very  young  I  assumed  man's 
attire  for  reasons  which  it  would  be  tedious  and  useless  to 
tell  you.  You  alone  have  divined  my  sex,  and,  if  I  have  made 
conquests,  they  have  only  been  over  women, — very  superfluous 
conquests,  which  have  embarrassed  me  more  than  once.  In  a 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  355 

word,  although  it  is  an  incredible  and  ridiculous  thing,  I  am 
virgin, — as  virgin  as  the  snow  on  Himalaya,  as  the  Moon  before 
she  had  lain  with  Endymion,  as  Mary  before  she  had  made  the 
acquaintance  of  the  divine  pigeon,  and  I  am  grave  as  every  one 
is  when  about  to  do  a  thing  on  which  it  is  impossible  to  go  back. 
It  is  a  metamorphosis,  a  transformation  that  I  am  about  to 
undergo  :  to  change  the  name  of  girl  into  the  name  of  woman, 
to  no  longer  have  to-morrow  what  I  had  yesterday ;  something 
that  I  did  not  know  and  thr.t  I  am  going  to  learn,  an  important 
page  turned  in  the  book  of  life.  It  is  for  that  reason  that 
I  look  sad,  my  friend,  and  not  on  account  of  any  fault  of 
yours." 

As  she  said  this  she  parted  the  young  man's  long  hair  with  her 
two  beautiful  hands,  and  laid  her  softly  puckered  lips  upon  his 
pale  forehead. 

D' Albert,  singularly  moved  by  the  gentle  and  solemn  tone  in 
which  she  uttered  this  long  speech,  took  her  hands  and  kissed 
the  fingers  one  after  another ;  then  very  delicately  broke  the 
lacing  of  her  dress  so  that  the  body  opened  and  the  two  white 
treasures  appeared  in  all  their  splendour :  upon  the  bosom 
which  was  as  sparkling  and  as  clear  as  silver  bloomed  the  two 
beautiful  roses  of  paradise.  He  pressed  their  vermilion  points 
lightly  in  his  mouth,  and  thus  went  over  the  whole  outline. 
Rosalind  submitted  with  exhaustless  complaisance,  and  tried  to 
return  his  caresses  as  exactly  as  possible. 

"You  must  find  me  very  awkward  and  cold,  my  poor 
D'Albert ;  but  I  scarcely  know  how  to  set  about  it.  You  will 
have  a  great  deal  to  do  to  teach  me,  and  really  I  am  imposing 
a  very  laborious  task  upon  you." 

D'Albert  made  the  simplest  reply,  he  did  not  reply  at  all ; 
and,  straining  her  in  his  arms  with  fresh  passion,  he  covered  her 
bare  shoulders  and  breast  with  kisses.  The  hair  of  the  half- 
swooning  infanta  became  loosened,  and  her  dress  fell  to  her 
feet  as  though  by  enchantment.  She  remained  quite  upright 
like  a  white  apparition  in  a  simple  chemise  of  the  most  trans 
parent  linen.  The  blissful  lover  knelt  down,  and  had  soon 
thrown  the  two  pretty  little  red-heeled  shoes  into  an  opposite 


356  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

corner  of  the  apartment ;  the  stockings  with  embroidered 
clocks  followed  close  after  them. 

The  chemise,  gifted  with  a  happy  spirit  of  imitation,  did  not 
remain  long  behind  the  dress ;  it  first  slipped  from  the  shoulders 
without  there  being  any  thought  of  checking  it ;  then,  taking 
advantage  of  a  moment  when  the  arms  were  perpendicular,  it 
very  cleverly  came  off  them  and  rolled  as  far  as  the  hips  whose 
undulating  outline  partially  checked  it.  Rosalind  then  per- 
ceived the  perfidiousness  of  her  last  garment,  and  raised  her 
knee  a  little  to  prevent  it  from  falling  altogether.  In  this 
pose  she  was  exactly  like  those  marble  statues  of  goddesses 
whose  intelligent  drapery,  sorry  to  cover  up  so  many  charms, 
envelops  them  with  regret,  and  by  a  happy  piece  of  treachery 
stops  just  below  the  part  that  it  is  intended  to  conceal.  But,  as 
the  chemise  was  not  of  marble  and  its  folds  did  not  support  it, 
it  continued  its  triumphant  descent,  sank  down  altogether  upon 
the  dress,  and  lay  round  about  its  mistress's  feet  like  a  large 
white  greyhound. 

There  was  certainly  a  very  simple  means  of  preventing  all 
this  disorder,  namely,  to  check  the  fugitive  with  the  hand :  this 
idea,  natural  as  it  was,  did  not  occur  to  our  modest  heroine. 

She  remained,  then,  without  any  covering,  her  fallen  garments 
forming  a  sort  of  pedestal  for  her,  in  all  the  diaphanous  splen- 
dour of  her  beautiful  nakedness,  beneath  the  soft  light  of  an 
alabaster  lamp  which  D'Albert  had  lighted. 

D' Albert,  who  was  dazzled,  gazed  upon  her  with  rapture. 

"  I  am  cold,"  she  said,  crossing  her  hands  upon  her 
shoulders. 

"  Oh  !  pray  !  one  minute  more  !  " 

Rosalind  uncrossed  her  hands,  leant  the  tip  of  her  finger 
upon  the  back  of  an  easy-chair  and  stood  motionless ;  she 
gave  a  slight  movement  to  her  hips  in  such  a  way  as  to  bring 
out  all  the  richness  of  the  waving  line ;  she  did  not  appear  at 
all  embarrassed,  and  the  imperceptible  rose  of  her  cheeks  was 
not  a  shade  deeper :  only  the  somewhat  quickened  beating  of 
her  heart  caused  the  outline  of  her  left  breast  to  tremble. 

The    young    enthusiast    for    beauty  could  not   sufficiently 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  357 

feast  his  eyes  on  such  a  spectacle ;  we  must  say,  to  Rosalind's 
boundless  praise,  that  this  time  the  reality  was  beyond  his 
dream,  and  that  he  did  not  experience  the  slightest  deception. 

Everything  was  united  in  the  beautiful  form  standing  before 
him — delicacy  and  strength,  grace  and  colour,  the  lines  of  a 
Greek  statue  of  the  best  period  and  the  tone  of  a  Titian.  There 
he  saw,  palpable  and  crystallized,  the  cloudy  chimera  that  he 
had  so  often  vainly  sought  to  stay  in  its  flight ;  he  was  not 
obliged,  in  the  manner  he  used  to  complain  of  to  his  friend 
Silvio,  to  limit  his  gaze  to  a  certain  fairly  well-formed  part  and 
not  stray  beyond  it,  on  pain  of  seeing  something  frightful,  and 
his  amorous  eye  passed  down  from  the  head  to  the  feet  and 
ascended  again  from  the  feet  to  the  head,  and  was  ever  sweetly 
soothed  by  a  correct  and  harmonious  form. 

The  limbs  were  proudly  and  superbly  turned,  the  knees 
were  admirably  pure,  the  ankles  elegant  and  slender,  the 
arms  and  shoulders  of  the  most  magnificent  character,  the 
skin  as  lustrous  as  an  agate,  the  bosom  enough  to  make 
gods  come  down  from  heaven  to  kiss  it;  a  torrent  of 
beautiful  brown  hair  slightly  crisped,  such  as  we  see  on 
the  heads  by  the  old  masters,  fell  in  little  waves  along 
an  ivory  back  whose  whiteness  it  brought  out  in  wonderful 
relief. 

The  painter  satisfied,  the  lover  resumed  the  ascendancy ;  for, 
whatever  love  a  man  may  have  for  art,  there  are  things  that  he 
cannot  long  be  satisfied  with  looking  at. 

He  took  up  the  fair  one  in  his  arms  ana  bore  her  to  the 
couch. 


Our  fair  reader  would  possibly  pout  at  her  lover  if  we 
revealed  to  her  the  sum  total  of  the  lessons  imparted  by 
D' Albert's  love,  assisted  by  Rosalind's  curiosity.  Let  her 
recall  the  best  occupied  and  most  charming  of  her  nights, 
the  night  which  would  be  remembered  a  hundred  thousand 
days,  did  not  death  come  before;  let  her  lay  her  book  aside 


358  MADEMOISELLE  DE   MAUPIN. 

and  compute  on  the  tips  of  her  pretty  white  fingers  how  many 
times  she  was  loved  by  him  who  loved  her  most,  and  thus  fill 
up  the  void  left  by  us  in  this  glorious  history. 

Rosalind  was  prodigiously  apt,  and  made  enormous  progress 
in  that  single  night.  The  ingenuousness  of  body  which  was  as- 
tonished at  everything,  and  the  rakishness  of  mind  which  was 
astonished  at  nothing,  formed  the  most  piquant  and  adorable 
contrast.  D'Albert  was  ravished,  distracted,  transported,  and 
would  have  wished  the  night  to  last  forty-eight  hours,  like  that 
in  which  Hercules  was  conceived.  However,  towards  morning, 
in  spite  of  a  multitude  of  kisses,  caresses,  and  the  most  amorous 
endearments  in  the  world,  well  adapted  to  keep  one  awake,  he 
finally  found  himself  obliged  to  take  some  little  repose. 
A  soft  and  voluptuous  sleep  touched  his  eyes  with  the  tip  of  its 
wing,  his  head  drooped,  and  he  slumbered  between  the  breasts 
of  his  beautiful  mistress.  The  latter  contemplated  him  for 
some  time  with  an  air  of  melancholy  and  profound  thought ; 
then,  as  the  dawn  shot  its  whitish  rays  through  the  curtains,  she 
gently  raised  him,  laid  him  beside  her,  stood  up,  and  passed 
lightly  over  his  body. 

She  went  to  her  clothes  and  dressed  again  in  haste,  then 
returned  to  the  bed,  leaned  over  D'Albert  who  was  still  asleep, 
and  kissed  both  his  eyes  on  their  long  and  silky  lashes.  This 
done,  she  withdrew  backwards,  still  looking  at  him. 

Instead  of  returning  to  her  own  room  she  entered  Rosette's. 
What  she  there  said  and  did  I  have  never  been  able  to  ascer- 
tain, although  I  have  made  the  most  conscientious  researches. 
Neither  in  Graciosa's  papers,  nor  in  those  belonging  to  D'Alben 
and  Silvio,  have  I  found  anything  having  relation  to  this  visit 
Only,  a  maid  of  Rosette's  informed  me  of  the  following  singu- 
lar circumstance  :  although  her  mistress  had  not  slept  with  her 
lover  that  night,  the  bed  was  disturbed  and  tossed,  and  bore 
the  impress  of  two  bodies.  Further,  she  showed  me  two  pearls, 
exactly  similar  to  those  worn  in  his  hair  by  Theodore  when 
acting  the  part  of  Rosalind.  She  had  found  them  in  the  bed 
when  making  it.  I  leave  this  remark  to  the  reader's  sagacity, 
and  give  him  liberty  to  draw  thence  any  inferences  that  he 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  359 

likes  ;  for  myself,  I  have  made  a  thousand  conjectures  about  it, 
each  more  unreasonable  than  the  rest,  and  so  absurd  that  I 
really  dare  not  write  them  even  in  the  most  virtuously  peri- 
phrastic style. 

It  was  quite  noon  when  Theodore  left  Rosette's  room.  He 
did  not  appear  at  dinner  or  supper.  D'Albert  and  Rosette 
did  not  seem  at  all  surprised  at  this.  He  went  to  bed 
very  early,  and  the  following  morning,  as  soon  as  it  was 
light,  without  giving  notice  to  any  one,  he  saddled  his  page's 
horse  and  his  own,  and  left  the  mansion,  telling  a  footman  that 
they  were  not  to  wait  dinner  for  him,  and  that  he  might  perhaps 
not  return  for  a  few  days. 

D'Albert  and  Rosette  were  extremely  astonished,  and  did 
not  know  how  to  account  for  this  strange  disappearance, 
especially  D'Albert,  who  decidedly  thought  that  his  behaviour  on 
the  first  night  had  entitled  him  to  a  second.  Towards  the  end 
of  the  week,  the  unhappy  disappointed  lover  received  from 
Theodore  a  letter,  which  we  shall  transcribe.  I  am  afraid  that 
it  will  satisfy  neither  my  male  nor  my  female  readers ;  but  the 
letter  was  in  truth  none  other  than  that  which  follows,  and  this 
glorious  romance  will  have  no  other  conclusion. 


XVII. 

>OU  are  no  doubt  greatly  surprised,  my  deal 
D' Albert,  at  what  I  have  just  done  after  acting 
as  I  did.  I  will  allow  you  to  be  so,  for  you 
have  reason.  The  odds  are  that  you  have  already 
bestowed  upon  me  at  least  twenty  of  the  epithets  that  we  had 
agreed  to  erase  from  our  vocabulary — perfidious,  inconstant, 
wicked, — is  it  not  so  ?  At  least  you  will  not  call  me  cruel  or 
virtuous,  and  that  is  still  something  gained.  You  curse  me, 
and  you  are  wrong.  You  desired  me,  you  loved  me,  I  was  your 
ideal ; — very  well.  I  at  once  granted  you  what  you  asked  ;  it 
was  your  own  fault  that  you  did  not  have  it  sooner.  I  served  as 
a  body  for  your  dream  as  compliantly  as  possible.  I  gave  you 
what  assuredly  I  shall  never  again  give  to  any  one,  a  surprise  on 
which  you  hardly  counted  and  for  which  you  ought  to  be  more 
grateful  to  me.  Now  that  I  have  satisfied  you,  it  pleases  me 
to  go  away.  What  is  there  so  monstrous  in  this  ? 

"  You  have  been  with  me  entirely  and  unreservedly  for  a  whole 
night ;  what  more  would  you  have  ?  Another  night,  and  then 
another ;  you  would  even  make  free  with  the  days  if  need  were. 
You  would  go  on  in  this  way  until  you  were  surfeited  with  me. 
I  can  hear  you  from  this  crying  out  most  gallantly  that  I  am 
not  one  of  those  with  whom  surfeit  is  possible.  Good  gracious  ! 
I  am  like  the  rest. 

"  It  would  last  six  months,  two  years,  ten  years  even,  if  you 
will,  but  still  everything  must  have  an  end.  You  would  keep 
me  from  a  kind  of  feeling  of  propriety,  or  because  you  vould 
not  have  the  courage  to  give  me  my  dismissal.  What  would  be 
the  use  of  waiting  until  matters  came  to  this  ? 


MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN.  361 

"  And  then,  it  might  perhaps  be  myself  who  would  cease  to 
love  you.  I  have  found  you  charming;  perhaps,  by  dint  of 
seeing  you,  I  might  have  come  to  find  you  detestable.  Forgive 
me  this  supposition.  Living  with  you  in  close  intimacy,  I 
should  no  doubt  have  had  occasion  to  see  you  in  a  cotton  cap 
or  in  some  ridiculous  or  facetious  domestic  situation.  You 
would  necessarily  have  lost  the  romantic  and  mysterious  side 
which  allures  me  more  than  anything  else,  and  your  character, 
when  better  understood,  would  no  longer  have  appeared  so 
strange  to  me.  I  should  have  been  less  taken  up  with  you 
through  having  you  beside  me,  in  something  like  the  fashion  in 
which  we  treat  those  books  that  we  never  open  because  they 
are  in  our  libraries.  Your  nose  or  your  wit  would  no  longer 
have  seemed  nearly  so  well  turned ;  I  should  have  perceived 
that  your  coat  did  not  fit  you  and  that  your  stockings  were  un- 
tidy; I  should  have  had  a  thousand  deceptions  of  this  kind  which 
would  have  given  me  singular  pain,  and  at  last  I  should  have 
come  to  this  conclusion  :  that  you  decidedly  had  neither  heart 
nor  soul,  and  that  I  was  destined  to  be  misunderstood  in  love. 

"  You  adore  me  and  I  you.  You  have  not  the  slightest 
reproach  to  make  against  me,  and  I  have  nothing  in  the  world 
to  complain  of  in  you.  I  have  been  perfectly  faithful  to  you 
throughout  our  amour.  I  have  deceived  you  in  nothing.  I 
had  neither  false  bosom  nor  false  virtue  ;  you  had  the  extreme 
kindness  to  tell  me  that  I  was  yet  more  beautiful  than  you  had 
imagined.  For  the  beauty  that  I  gave  you,  you  repaid  me  with 
pleasure  ;  we  are  quits  . — I  go  my  way  and  you  yours,  and  per- 
haps we  shall  meet  again  at  the  Antipodes.  Live  in  this  hope. 

"  You  believe,  perhaps,  that  I  do  not  love  you  because  I  am 
leaving  you.  Later,  you  will  recognise  the  truth  of  the  con- 
trary. Had  I  valued  you  less,  I  should  have  remained,  and 
would  have  poured  out  to  you  the  insipid  beverage  to  the  dregs 
Your  love  would  soon  have  died  of  weariness  ;  after  a  time  you 
would  have  quite  forgotten  me,  and,  as  you  read  over  my  name 
on  the  list  of  your  conquests,  would  have  asked  yourself :  '  Now, 
who  the  deuce  was  she  ? '  I  have  at  least  the  satisfaction  of 
thinking  that  you  will  remember  me  sooner  than  another. 

7. 


362  MADEMOISELLE  DE  MAUPIN. 

Your  unsated  desire  will  again  spread  its  wings  to  fly  to  me  ;  1 
shall  ever  be  to  you  something  desirable  to  which  your  fancy 
will  love  to  return,  and  I  hope  that  in  the  arms  of  the  mistresses 
you  may  have,  you  will  sometimes  think  of  the  unrivalled  night 
you  spent  with  me. 

"  Never  will  you  be  more  amiable  than  you  were  that  bliss- 
ful evening,  and,  even  were  you  equally  so,  it  would  still  be 
something  less ;  for  in  love,  as  in  poetry,  to  remain  at  the  same 
point  is  to  go  back.  Keep  to  that  impression,  and  you  will  do 
well. 

"  You  have  rendered  the  task  of  the  lovers  I  may  have  (if  I 
have  other  lovers)  a  difficult  one,  and  no  one  will  be  able  to 
efface  the  memory  of  you  ; — they  will  be  the  heirs  of  Alexander. 

"  If  you  are  too  much  grieved  at  losing  me,  burn  this  letter, 
which  is  the  only  proof  that  you  have  possessed  me,  and  you 
will  believe  that  you  have  had  a  beautiful  dream.  What  is  there 
to  hinder  you  ?  The  vision  has  vanished  before  the  light,  at  the 
hour  when  dreams  return  home  through  the  horn  or  the  ivory 
gate.  How  many  have  died  who,  less  fortunate  than  you,  have 
not  even  given  a  single  kiss  to  their  chimera  ! 

"  I  am  neither  capricious,  nor  mad,  nor  a  conceited  prude. 
What  I  am  doing  is  the  result  of  profound  conviction.  It  is 
not  in  order  to  inflame  you  more,  or  from  calculating  coquetry 

that  I  have  gone  away  from  C ;  do  not  try  to  follow  me  or 

to  find  me  again  :  you  will  not  succeed.  My  precautions  to 
conceal  from  you  all  traces  of  myself  have  been  too  well 
taken ;  you  will  always  be  for  me  the  man  who  opened  up  to 
me  a  world  of  new  sensations.  These  are  things  t>.ac  a  woman 
does  not  easily  forget.  Though  absent,  I  shall  often  think 
of  you,  oftener  than  if  you  were  with  me. 

"  Comfort  poor  Rosette  as  well  as  you  can,  for  she  must  be 
at  least  as  sorry  for  my  departure  as  you  are.  Love  each  other 
well  in  memory  of  me,  whom  both  of  you  have  loved,  an<J 
breathe  my  name  sometimes  in  a  kiss." 

THE    END. 


FLAUBERT'S     MASTERPIECE. 

In  Crown  Srn,  beautifully  printed  on  vellum-texture  puptr,  elegantly  bound,  3s  M. 

MADAME  BOVARY:  Provincial  Manners. 

BY   GUSTAVE   FLAUBERT. 

TRANSLATED    BY    ELEANOR    MARX-AVELIXG. 

M.      EMILE     ZOLA     ON      "MADAME      BOVARY." 

'The  first  characteristic  of  the  naturalistic  novel,  of  which  "Madame  Bovary  "  is 
the  type,  is  the  exact  reproduction  of  life,  the  absence  of  every  romantic  element.  The 
scenes  themselves  are  every -day  ones  ;  but  the  author  has  carefully  sorted  and  balanced 
them  in  such  a  way  as  to  make  his  work  a  monument  of  art  and  science.  It  is  a  true 
picture  of  life  presented  to  us  in  an  admirably  selected  frame.  All  extraordinary  inven- 
tion is  therefore  banished  from  it.  One  no  longer  encounters  in  its  pages  children 
marked  at  their  birth,  then  lost,  to  be  found  again  in  the  last  chapter  ;  nor  secret 
drawers  containing  documents  which  come  to  light  at  the  right  moment,  for  the  pur- 
pose of  saving  persecuted  innocence.  In  fact  all  intrigue,  even  the  simplest,  is  absent. 
The  story  marches  straight  on,  relating  events  day  by  day,  harbouring  no  surprise  ;  and 
when  it  is  finished,  it  is  as  though,  after  being  as  it  were  out  in  the  world,  you  had  re- 
gained your  home. 

'The  whole  of  "  Madame  Bovary,"  even  in  its  slightest  incidents,  possesses  a  heart- 
rending interest — a  new  interest,  unknown  prioi^  to  the  appearance  of  this  book — the 
interest  of  reality,  of  the  drama  of  daily  life.  It  grips  your  very  vitals  with  an  invincible 
power,  like  some  scene  you  have  witnessed,  some  event  which  is  actually  happening 
before  your  eyes.  The  personages  of  the  story  are  among  your  acquaintances  ;  you  have 
assisted  at  their  proceedings  twenty  times  over.  You  are  in  your  own  sphere  in  this 
work,  and  all  that  transpires  is  even  dependent  upon  your  surroundings.  It  is  this 
which  causes  such  profound  emotion.  But  there  is  also  to  be  added  the  prodigious  art 
of  the  writer.  Throughout,  the  tone  is  of  an  absolute  exactitude.  The  arrangement  of 
the  action  is  continuous  as  it  would  be  in  reality,  without  a  digression  due  to  imagina- 
tion, without  the  slightest  kind  of  invention.  The  life,  the  colouring,  succeed  in 
creating  the  illusion.  The  writer  accomplishes  the  prodigy  of  disappearing  completely, 
and  yet  making  his  great  art  everywhere  felt.' 

BLACKWOOD  S      MAGAZINE      ON      "  MADAME      BOVARY." 

'  Flaubert  is  among  the  first  of  social  realists.  He  addresses  himself  almost  avowedly 
to  the  senses  and  not  to  the  feelings.  He  treat?  of  love  in  its  physiological  aspects,  and 
indulges  in  the  minutest  analysis  of  the  grosser  corporeal  sensations.  In  intelligence 
and  accomplishments,  as  well  as  literary  skill,  lie  was  no  ordinary  man.  Ho  had  read 
much  and  studied  profoundly;  he  had  travelled  far,  keeping  his  eyes  open,  and  had 
made  some  reputation  in  certain  branches  of  science. 

'  Flaubert  wrote  his  great  masterpiece  "  Madame  Bovary "  delil>erately  in  his 
maturity  ;  and  the  notoriety  which  carried  him  with  it  into  the  law-courts,  made 
him  a  martyr  in  a  society  that  was  by  no  means  fastidious.  Seldom  before  has  an 
author  concentrated  such  care  and  thought  on  a  single  work.  Each  separate  chapter 
is  wrought  out  with  an  exactness  of  elaboration  to  which  the  painting  of  the  Dutch 
school  is  sketchy  and  superficial.  Those  who  till  tin-  humblest  parts,  or  who  are 
merely  introduced  to  be  dismissed,  are  made  as  much  living  realities  to  us  as  Madame 
Bovary  herself,  or  her  husband  Charles.  Flaubert  goes  beyond  Bal/ac  in  the 
accum'ulation  of  details.  Yet  it  is  clear  in  the  retrospect  that  the  elleots  have  been 
foreseen,  and  we  acknowledge  in  the  end  the  vivid  impressions  the  author  lias  made  on 
us. 

'  Flaubert  proposes  to  set  the  truth  before  everything,  and  we  presume  lie  does  so 
to  the  bestof  his  conviction.  He  goes  to  his  work  as  cruelly  and  Imperturbably  as 
the  Scotch  surgeon  in  the  pirate  ship,  who  is  said  to  have  claimed  a  negro  as  his  share 
of  the  spoil,  that  he  might  practise  on  tha  wretch  in  a  series  of  operations.' 

GIBBIXGS  &  CO.,  18  BURY  STREET,  BLOOMSBURY,  W.C. 


Printed  on  vellum-texture  paper,  and  elegantly  bound,  price  3s  6d. 

SALAMBO 

A  REALISTIC   ROMANCE   OF  ANCIENT   CARTHAGE 

BY    GUSTAVE    FLAUBERT. 
/  , 

TRANSLATED   FROM   THE   FRENCH    "  EDITION  DEFINITIVE," 

BY  J.  S.  CHARTRES. 


SOME  PRESS  OPINIONS  ON  MR  CHARTRES'S  TRANSLATION  OF 
'  SALAMBO.' 

'  We  are  able  to  declare  that  this  second  translation,  the  work  of  Mr  Chartres, 
and  published  by  Messrs  Vizetelly,  is  very  much  the  better  of  the  two.  ...  To 
show  the  relation  of  this  translation  to  its  rival  and  to  the  original,  we  shall 
quote  the  first  few  lines  of  all  three.  The  beginning  of  '  Salambo '  is  a  very  good 
test  passage.  .  .  It  is  hardly  necessary  to  ask  which  of  the  two  is  nearest  to 
the  French.  Turn  over  the  page  and  an  abundance  of  equally  instructive 
parallel  passages  are  to  be  found.' — Saturday  Rei~ien: 

'  As  regards  the  translator's  work,  which  is  allowed  on  all  hands  to  have  been 
a  very  arduous  task,  there  is  little  or  no  reason  to  doubt  that  a  good,  faithful, 
and  readable  rendering  has  been  accomplished.  A  very  useful  appendix  has 
been  most  thoughtfully  and  considerately  added  to  the  story ;  it  contains  criti- 
cisms of  the  romance  at  its  first  appearance,  and  replies  made  to  them  by  the 
author.  This  course  was  honest,  wise,  and  satisfactory.' — Illustrated  London  Kews. 

'  Some  little  while  ago  there  was  published  an  extraordinary  bad  translation 
of  Flaubert's  "Salambo"  [by  M.  French  Sheldon].  By  some  means  (there are  so 
many  of  these  means)  it  was  puffed  as  even  in  our  time  few  if  any  books  so 
bad  had  been  puffed.  Names  of  all  sorts  and  conditions  of  men  ("the  highest 
authorities  in  the  land,"  said  the  advertisement)  were  pressed  into  its  service- 
even  Professor  Max  Miiller's  name,  which,  after  his  little  affair  with  Miss 
Karoline  Bauer,  one  would  have  thought  to  carry  no  very  high  authority.  And 
hand  in  hand  with  the  puffing  went  some  dark  warnings  against  other  possible 
translations,  which  would  inevitably  be  spurious,  infamous,  and  I  know  not 
what  else.  The  reason  of  this  warning  is  now  clear.  Another  translation  has 
appeared,  done  by  Mr  J.  S.  Chartres,  and  published  by  Vizetelly,  which  is 
much  superior  to  its  predecessor.' — The  World. 

'The  pre^nt  volume  brought  out  by  Messrs  Vizetelly  quite  deserves  the 
adjective  "scholarly."  Whenever  this  enterprising  firm  undertakes  a  transla- 
tion, it  is  generally  executed  in  a  way  above  reproach,  and  "Salambo"  is  no 
exception  to  the  rule.  It  is  an  open  secret  that  M.  Flaubert's  work  is  not 
exactly  meat  for  babes,  but  it  does  not  alter  the  fact  that  the  proper  edition  of 
'  Salambo,"  for  every  one  who  enjoys  realism,  to  possess  is  Mr  Chartres's  trans- 
lation, which  is  enriched  with  a  "most  excellent  etching  by  Bocourt  of  the 
author  of  th  most  wonderful  realistic  novel  of  the  day.' — Whitehall  Review. 

GIBBTNGS  &  CO.,  18  BURY  STREET,  BLOOMSBURY,  W.C.